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Kirill Kaprizov has emphatic reply to Wild teammate’s Calder Trophy chances

NHL: NHL All-Star Thursday
Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

TORONTO – Don’t let Kirill Kaprizov and his preference to rely on a translator fool you. When the Minnesota Wild forward from Russia is so moved, he can communicate quite effectively in English.

For instance, when asked Thursday if Wild teammate Brock Faber will win the Calder Trophy as NHL rookie of the year this season, Kaprizov understood the question and needed no help answering.

“I hope so!” Kaprizov enthusiastically told Sportsnaut here at NHL All-Star Media Day.

Through his translator, Kaprizov then explained why the 21-year-old defenseman deserves consideration with 33 games remaining in the NHL season.

“He’s an ideal defensemen, who helps in all areas on the ice,” he said. “His input in the team’s success is great. It’s really good he’s playing for our team.”

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Kirill Kaprizov praises Wild rookies Brock Faber, Marco Rossi

Kaprizov knows a thing or two about what it takes to win the Calder. He was voted NHL rookie of the year in 2020-21 when he scored 27 goals and 51 points in 55 games.

Faber’s candidacy has been given a boost by the fact that Connor Bedard is out long-term with a fractured jaw. It appeared the No. 1 pick in the 2023 NHL Draft would run away with the award when the Chicago Blackhawks center scored 33 points (15 goals, 18 assists) in 39 games before the injury.

But Faber was always in the conversation. He is second among all rookies in scoring with 29 points and first with 25 assists. On top of that, Faber leads all NHL rookies in average ice-time (24:51) and has upped his all-around play following longer-term injuries to captain Jared Spurgeon and veteran Jonas Brodin.

Consider Kaprizov impressed. Though he’s also got his eye on another top rookie, Wild forward Marco Rossi.

“We have ‘Fabes’ and Marco Rossi, too. These two guys can win,” Kaprizov said. “These two guys, let’s hope their careers will be great. The main thing is that they will grow as players and the team will grow with them. They will grow together. That’s good for us.”

Rossi is right behind Faber in rookie scoring with 28 points (13 goals, 15 assists). The forward’s 13 goals are second behind Bedard.

As for Kaprizov, the 26-year-old is hot heading into his third NHL All-Star Game. He has six goals, including a hat trick, in five games before the break. And he leads the Wild with 45 points (19 goals, 26 assists) in 42 games.

“It’s always a good time, the All-Star Game. It’s always fun to be here with all the good players,” Kaprizov said. “I enjoy this time.”

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