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Wild GM will travel to Russia to meet prized prospect Kirill Kaprizov

Olympic Athlete of Russia forward Kirill Kaprizov (77) scores a goal against Slovenia during the third period at the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic Winter Games at Gangneung Hockey Center in Gangneung, South Korea, on Feb. 16, 2018.

ST. PAUL -- After keeping it casual with prized prospect Kirill Kaprizov, it looks like Wild general manager Paul Fenton is ready to get serious.

Fenton is leaving for Russia on Saturday, Nov. 3, and will spend a few of days there watching Kaprizov, 21, play for CSKA Moscow of the Kontinental Hockey League. He will then head to the Karjala Cup tournament in Finland, where Kaprizov will also be playing.

“It’s important to see our draft picks,” Fenton said. “It’ll be a good experience for me to be able to physically see him and meet him and try to build a relationship with him so we know that in the future he’ll be one of us.”

Besides watching the Russian winger in person, Fenton also plans to have dinner with him and his parents.

“It’s important that we build a relationship and we nurture it going forward,” Fenton said, adding that he also will scout free agents and get a look at Andrei Svetlakov, another Wild draftee playing for CSKA Moscow.

Make no mistake, though, this road trip is designed specifically with Kaprizov in mind. His contract with his current team runs out after next season, and Fenton seems confident he will be coming to the Twin Cities shortly thereafter.

“All the indicators are saying that, yes, we are confident he wants to be part of the Minnesota Wild organization,” Fenton said. “I’m really looking forward to meeting him.”

Kaprizov could be the sniper the Wild have long been looking for.

A fifth-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, Kaprizov has consistently shown the ability to put the puck in the back of the net. He had 15 goals with CSKA Moscow last season, and also showcased his scoring touch during the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, scoring five goals in six games to help the Olympic Athletes From Russia win gold.

Not surprisingly, Fenton has heard the hype from afar dating back to his time as the assistant general manager with the Nashville Predators. Now that he’s in charge, he wants to see Kaprizov with his own two eyes.

“It’s better to be able to evaluate him and be able to give an honest assessment when I get back,” Fenton said. “We have high expectations that he’ll be able to take that and apply it here and become a very, very large part of our organization going forward.”

Fenton joked that he’s talked to Kaprizov’s agent Dan Milstein “probably too many times” at this point in the process. In that sense, it will be good to talk to Kaprizov face-to-face, though his Russian needs some work.

“We are very, very, very, very interested in him,” Fenton said. “I think that’s the most important thing, just to show him that we have love for him. We have to show him that this is a family, that we want to succeed and that we want him to be here. That’s the most important thing.”

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