Kirill Kaprizov and the Minnesota Wild are running out of time with negotiations “pretty slow right now” and training camp set to begin Sept. 23, but general manager Bill Guerin said he remains optimistic the restricted free agent forward will re-sign.
“The player is doing what he feels is right,” Guerin said Tuesday. “You need to respect that, and I do. I respect Kirill and I don’t think he’s doing anything abnormal right now. It’s just a matter of, ‘When do we get the deal done?'”
Guerin acknowledged that he is concerned that it could negatively impact Kaprizov’s season if the contract stalemate continues long enough that the 24-year-old misses training camp.
“You know my track record,” said Guerin, who played 18 seasons in the NHL as a forward before retiring in 2010. “I held out twice, and neither time did it work out well for me. We’ve had players who have missed training camp, and they start slow. They’re behind. I know from experience it’s not good.”
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Guerin said the Wild have made what he believes is a “very good” contract offer to Kaprizov, who won the Calder Trophy voted as NHL rookie of the year last season.
Kaprizov became the first Wild player to win the award after he led rookies in goals (27), points (51), power-play goals (eight) and shots on goal (157) in 55 games; was second in even-strength points (38) and power-play points (13); and was tied for third in rating (plus-10). He helped Minnesota (35-16-5) finish as the No. 3 seed in the Honda West Division and scored three points (two goals, one assist) in the Stanley Cup First Round, when it was eliminated by the Vegas Golden Knights in seven games.
Guerin said Aug. 16 that he was not concerned by reports that Kaprizov was considering staying in his native Russia and playing in the Kontinental Hockey League.
Although talks between the Wild and Kaprizov and his agent, Paul Theofanous, have stalled recently, Guerin noted that sometimes is part of the process.
“Pretty slow right now, but nothing I’m really worried about,” Guerin said. “There are a lot of other teams with good players not signed, yet. So I’m not sitting here worrying about it every day.”
Other prominent players who remain restricted free agents are forward Brady Tkachuk of the Calgary Flames, defenseman Rasmus Dahlin of the Buffalo Sabres and forward Elias Pettersson and defenseman Quinn Hughes of the Vancouver Canucks.
“You have to stay patient,” Guerin said. “It’s not just us that’s involved in this. It’s a player and his feelings and what he feels, so we all process it kind of differently. These things are complicated and can take time.”