The Minnesota Wild and their fans are still waiting to see Kirill Kaprizov hit the ice with the team five years after they drafted him. The 23-year old forward is widely regarded as one of the best players outside the NHL, but for years there was little indication he wanted to come to North America. Now that there is—Kaprizov has made it clear that he is ready to sign with the Wild—the current league pause is getting in the way.
Despite being on the reserve list of the Wild, Kaprizov (and other players like him in similar situations around the league) isn’t being allowed to sign with the team for the 2019-20 season because of the current pause. Minnesota GM Bill Guerin is still holding out hope that the league will change their mind, telling Dan Myers of NHL.com that both sides are just taking it “day-by-day” and not jumping into an agreement for 2020-21 until it is necessary. As Michael Russo of The Athletic (subscription required) has explained several times, a delayed start to 2020-21 could pose a threat for the Wild should Kaprizov decide he doesn’t want to wait around for the season to begin, but it does seem like finally, both sides are on the same page.
- Each of the three leagues that make up the CHL have announced their Defenseman of the Year awards. Ty Smith repeats for the WHL, taking home the award for the second consecutive season and joining Kris Russell, Dion Phaneuf and Nolan Baumgartner as the only back-to-back winners. The New Jersey Devils prospect recorded 59 points in 46 games for the Spokane Chiefs and looks ready to make the jump to the NHL in short order. Noel Hoefenmayer doesn’t have quite the same name recognition as Smith, given that he was a fourth-round pick in 2017 and failed to sign with the Arizona Coyotes, but he was just as impressive this year in the OHL. Hoefenmayer recorded 82 points in 58 games for the Ottawa 67’s, an incredible total even if he was playing his over-age season. Hoefenmayer recently signed an AHL contract with the Toronto Marlies, his hometown minor league team. Jordan Spence takes home the award for the QMJHL, more exciting news for the Los Angeles Kings whose prospect pool is bursting at the seams with talent. As Scott Wheeler of The Athletic points out on Twitter, Spence now has a QMJHL Rookie of the Year and Defenseman of the Year award in his cabinet, but still isn’t even one of the very best prospects in the Kings’ system.
- Everyone is waiting to see when the draft will be for this season, but the push to have it take place in June before finishing the season has seemingly come to an end. In fact, Bob McKenzie of TSN asked some general manager around the league yesterday, who told him they have “no clue” on when it will be. McKenzie reports that the entire focus is on returning to play right now and that the decision on when to hold the draft “won’t be made anytime soon.”