It’s unclear if Minnesota Wild prospect Kirill Kaprizov will return to Russia for another season, but it appears Alexander Khovanov, arguably Minnesota’s second-best prospect behind Kaprizov, is definitely headed back to Europe.
According to a report from Michael Russo of The Athletic, the Wild have agreed to let Khovanov sign a one-year contract with the Kontinental Hockey League in Russia. With the NHL’s 2020-21 season likely not beginning until at least December, Russo reports the Wild are hoping to have Khovanov return to North America toward the middle of the year, which would ultimately burn the first year of his three-year entry-level contract.
This news doesn’t come as too much of a surprise. It was reported late last month that Khovanov would be signing a one-year contract with Ak Bars Kazan of the KHL, and it sounds like that will be the case after all. Russo confirmed Wednesday that he will indeed be playing for Ak Bars Kazan in 2020-21.
Some may be worried about Khovanov playing in Russia for a year, but there’s no need to panic. Khovanov is just 20 years old and must continue to develop as he prepares for a full-time NHL role. He’s dominated the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League for three years, and it’s time he begins playing against grown men.
Khovanov, selected in the third round (No. 86 overall) of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, collected 99 points (32 goals, 67 assists) in just 51 games for Moncton Wildcats of the QMJHL in 2019-20. Only one player in the QMJHL — Alexis Lafreniere — finished the season with more points than Khovanov.