Wild Owner Wants 5-Year Kirill Deal
Minnesota Wild owner Craig Leipold spoke openly with Sports Headliners today about the ongoing contract negotiations with forward Kirill Kaprizov, last season’s NHL Rookie of the Year and a potential superstar for years to come. Leipold said months ago the franchise made an offer to the restricted free agent for eight years in the “neighborhood of $9 million,” but a deal still isn’t in place even though the Wild opens training camp next week.
“That was really an ambitious offer that we made to a player that has played 55 games in the league,” Leipold said. “We know he is a special player. We do believe that. We thought the offer indicated how we believe in him. He wants less years. It doesn’t appear to be so much about the money.”
Leipold and GM Bill Guerin have asked Kaprizov and his agent to show them contracts of comparable NHL players to help discussions. “That’s how we typically do any kind of negotiation is that we talk about comparables, and we’re not getting any comparables from them,” Leipold said.
The Wild are not insisting on an eight-year commitment. “…I think really the issue right now on the table is how long will the contract be and our position is it needs to be at least five years,” Leipold said.
Would the Wild negotiate the deal down to three years? “I can assure you we will never do a three-year deal,” Leipold said. “That will not happen.”
The negotiations have been drawn out and frustrating. Will the club consider trading Kaprizov? “There’s never been discussion on that,” Leipold said. “I don’t think so. We’re not going to trade him. He’s our guy. We’ve been committed to Kirill now for years (drafted in 2015). We want him to be in a Wild sweater as long as we can have him.”
Leipold is hopeful that a five-year deal at $9 millon annually could get done soon. “I have no reason to believe that he wouldn’t be in training camp, right? I can’t understand what is holding this up. The offer we have is on the table, it is incredibly fair. I don’t think anyone is going to question that—whether $9 million for five years is fair or not fair. You can look at what the best players in the league are making, we’re right there. I don’t understand what is holding the signing of this negotiation up.”
Leipold believes it’s time for flexibility from Kaprizov and his agent. “We’ve already given on the number of years…and we’re asking him to make movement as well. The hope is that he will and he’ll recognize he wants to be with his team, and wants to be with it long term, and wants to win a (Stanley) Cup here. We love the way this team is developing now with our younger players. This is a good time to be a Wild player and a Wild fan.”
The 24-year-old Kaprizov captivated the State of Hockey with his offensive skill set and electric play last season. He led the Wild and NHL rookies with 51 points in 55 games last season. The 5-foot-11, 201-pound forward also led the team and league rookies in goals, even-strength goals (19), power-play goals (8) and shots on goal (157).
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