Every year dozens of new players enter into the NHL from all parts of the world. Some come up from the minor leagues, others cross the oceans to come play in the greatest hockey league in the world. While we don’t know when the 2020-21 season will begin, these are three players that will have eyes on them when hockey does inevitably return.
After five long years, Kirill Kaprizov is a member of the Minnesota Wild. Kaprizov was selected 135th overall in the fifth round of the 2015 NHL Draft and fans had wondered for years whether or not he was going to come over to North America. Thankfully for the Wild, Kaprizov signed a two year, entry level contract prior to Minnesota entering the Edmonton bubble for the conclusion of the 2020 playoffs. Despite Kaprizov not being able to play for the Wild this year, he gained invaluable experience being able to practice with his future teammates during their first round playoff series against the Vancouver Canucks.
Entering into the 2021 season, I think Kaprizov has the potential to be one of the league’s best rookie, if not the best. It’s not always a guarantee that KHL success translates to the NHL, but Kaprizov is a five time KHL All-star and has scored at almost a point per game pace since playing in Russia netting 230 points in 297 games. Kaprizov eclipsed the 30 goal mark in his last two seasons and should be able to help a Wild team that hasn’t been the most productive offensively, especially with the departure of Eric Staal to Buffalo. At 23, Kaprizov has competed against some of the best players in the world and that success should translate over to the NHL next season.
Like Kaprizov, Alexander Romanov was a highly touted Russian prospect brought over to the NHL during Phases 3 and 4 of the resumed playoffs, signing a 3 year entry level contract with the Montreal Canadiens. Romanov, 20, has spent the last two seasons in the KHL playing for one of the league’s top teams, CSKA Moscow. While being played on most nights as a seventh defenseman, Romanov was still able to accumulate 7 assists in 43 games, finishing the 2019-20 season with a +21 rating as well.
Although still incredibly young, the Canadiens have placed a lot of pressure on the young defenseman to hopefully blossom into a player that can eventually run their defense core. Having one of the oldest defense groups in the league, Romanov should be able to continue to develop and be mentored from the likes of Shea Weber and Ben Chiarot. While Romanov may not put up incredible numbers in his first season, he will be able to break out defensively while continuing to develop one of his best skills, his skating
Unlike the other two players on this list, Glass has seen NHL action already, but is poised to breakout in the 2020-21 season. Glass, 21, was the first ever selection of the Vegas Golden Knights in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft and spent the majority of last season playing in the NHL before being sidelined due to injury. However, before that injury Glass was recording respectable numbers netting 5 goals and 12 points in 39 games.
The Golden Knights moved on from center Paul Stastny this offseason opening up a spot that has Glass’ named written all over it. As one of the best teams in the NHL since their inception, Glass has the potential to not only move into that center role, but thrive in it.
“I’m ready to take on that spot,” Glass said. “For me to be able to do that, I just need to get stronger. I know I’m intelligent enough for that line and to play up in the lineup.”
The addition of Alex Pietrangelo boosts an already stacked Golden Knights’ team and if Glass can continue to rehab his knee back while getting stronger during this offseason, he can be a breakout player that pushes Vegas over the edge in 2021.