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Wild signs Russian phenom Kirill Kaprizov

The long-awaited signing brings a world-class goal scorer to a lineup sorely in need of offense.
Credit: AP
Russian athlete Kirill Kaprizov (77) tries to keep Frank Hordler (48), of Germany, away from the puck during the second period of the men's gold medal hockey game at the 2018 Winter Olympics, Sunday, Feb. 25, 2018, in Gangneung, South Korea. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

ST PAUL, Minn. — A young forward considered among the best pure goal scorers on the planet is finally in the fold of the Minnesota Wild, promising instant improvement to a lineup lacking in offense.

Russian forward Kirill Kaprizov inked a two-year, entry-level deal with the team that technically begins in the 2019-2020 season. The Athletic's Michael Russo says that allows the Wild to bring the 23-year-old Kaprizov to Minnesota for training camp and allows him to acclimate to both the team and life in the United States. Russo says unfortunately, the NHL's new collective bargaining agreement prohibits him from taking part in the upcoming playoffs, which for the Wild begin with a series against Vancouver August 2. 

 "We are thrilled to officially sign and welcome Kirill to our organization," said Wild GM Bill Guerin. "He has exceeded all expectations in his development since he was drafted in 2015. Kirill is a smart and dynamic forward that has led the KHL in goals each of the past two seasons and we look forward to having him on our roster when next season starts."

Kaprizov scored 33 goals and 62 total points in just 57 games this season with CSKA Moscow in Russia's top league. He led the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) in goals for the second straight year, and was third in total points. 

He has also excelled at an international level, starring for Russia in seven different tournaments and scoring the winning goal in the 2018 Olympic Gold Medal game. In those Olympics, Kaprizov finished tied for first in total goals scored, and tied for second in overall scoring. 

Kaprizov was selected by Minnesota in the fifth round (135th overall) of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. Fans have been frustrated for years with the Wild's inability to swing a deal that would lure the high-scoring forward from Russian professional hockey into the NHL, especially with the Wild's offensive woes in recent seasons. 

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