Kirill Kaprizov could start informal training with the Minnesota Wild next week.
The 23-year-old forward arrived in the United States from his native Russia on Wednesday, along with his agent and interpreter. He will be able to join a small group of teammates at TRIA Rink in St. Paul, Minnesota, after four negative tests for COVID-19.
The Wild are helping Kaprizov find a place to live, get situated with the training staff and begin testing. General manager Bill Guerin said he understands the acclimation period during a pandemic won’t be easy.
“It definitely has to be tougher than it would be normally,” Guerin said Thursday. “But the one thing about this game is when you go someplace new, you immediately have 20 new friends and they all look after each other. Knowing Kirill now with his personality, his English and how good it is, or how much better than he portrays, I’m not really worried about him.”
Kaprizov (5-foot-9, 185 pounds), a fifth-round pick (No. 135) in the 2015 NHL Draft, will prepare for his first season in North America, which the NHL is targeting to begin Jan. 1, 2021. He led the Kontinental Hockey League with 33 goals last season and signed a two-year, entry-level contract with Minnesota on July 13, but was ineligible to play in the 2020 NHL postseason. The Wild lost to the Vancouver Canucks in four games in a best-of-5 Stanley Cup Qualifier series.
Defensemen Jared Spurgeon, Ryan Suter and Brad Hunt, and forwards Marcus Foligno, Jordan Greenway, Nico Sturm, Victor Rask, Nick Bjugstad and Nick Bonino have been skating at the Wild practice facility.
“There’s no mandatory date to be here by, and knowing the guys like I do now, I have complete faith in them that they’re going to show up in shape and ready to go,” Guerin said. “They did for the hockey in the summer and there’s no question that they’ll do it now.”