Kirill Kaprizov made the long wait worth it.
The Wild’s 2015 fifth-round pick finally made his NHL debut Thursday night, and lived up to the hype.
Down 3-1 in the third period, the Kaprizov recorded an assist and the overtime winner as Minnesota topped the Kings 4-3.
“He was awesome tonight,” said Wild forward Marcus Foligno. “I’ve been saying it day one since he’s been here — his attitude, his work ethic is very special. For a guy with the hype around him, you worry that sometimes he might get lost in it. But not this guy. When he scores, it’s natural and he expects himself to score every night.”
The last time a player scored an overtime winner in their NHL debut? You have to go back to the Flames’ Tim Sweeney in 1990-91. Before that? Nick Knott of the 1941-42 Brooklyn Americans.
Kaprizov, 23, also became the first Wild player to record three points in his NHL debut and earned his first “hydration bucket” postgame MVP honor.
— Minnesota Wild (@mnwild) January 15, 2021
A Calder threat
“Kirill the Thrill,” or “Dolla Dolla Bill Kirill” as Matt Dumba called him, didn’t just dominate offensively, he worked both sides of the ice well. Head coach Dean Evason was impressed by Kaprizov’s conditioning, which saw him lead all Minnesota forwards with 21:52 of ice time.
“His aerobic capacity is phenomenal,” Evason said. “He comes off, there’s no red face, no heavy, heavy breathing. It’s like he could go right away the next shift. But when you have the ability to go back to somebody like that, then clearly they’re going to get some more ice time.”
Kaprizov is part of a very exciting 2020-21 Calder Trophy race. More importantly for the Wild, he’s brought some excitement to the franchise. Once Marco Rossi is back from his upper-body injury, the duo will give the team a young one-two punch that could put them in the mix for a spot in the West Division.