Wild general manager Bill Guerin knows what it’s like to be involved in difficult contract negotiations. During the 1997-98 and 1999-00 NHL seasons he missed multiple games with the Devils and Oilers, respectively, while sorting out new deals.
That’s why he’s not worried about the fact that training camps open in eight days and 2020-21 Calder Trophy winner and restricted free agent Kirill Kaprizov remains unsigned.
“The player is doing what he feels is right,” Guerin said via NHL.com. “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?'”
Training camp is coming
Timing is the key here. Kaprizov is still in Russia and would still need to get a work visa before traveling to Minnesota. He would then have to take a COVID-19 test and quarantine for a week, per NHL protocols, before being allowed to join his teammates. That puts the likelihood of him missing the start of camp next week very high.
What Guerin is worried about when it comes to a potential delay in Kaprizov’s start to the season is his on-ice performance. “I held out twice, and neither time did it work out well for me,” he said. “We’ve had players who have missed training camp, and they start slow. They’re behind. I know from experience it’s not good.”
The negotiations reportedly have Kaprizov seeking a shorter-term deal, with Guerin eyeing something longer. The Athletic’s Michael Russo has reported that the average annual value of the deal is likely in the $9 million range.
Kaprizov scored 27 goals and recorded 51 points in 55 games, which helped him earn last season’s rookie of the year award.
Unsigned RFA pool remains full
Lou Lamoriello, who was Guerin’s GM in New Jersey during that 1997 contract dispute, has a famous line of “If you have time, use it.” There’s no rush yet to sign for Kaprizov, but we’re getting close to a point where the upcoming season could be affected for both player and team. From the Wild side, it sounds as if they’re just waiting on Kaprizov.
As Guerin told Russo, “We’ve made a very fair offer, and that’s just where we are.”