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When will the top-tier KHL prospects arrive in the NHL?

Kirill Kaprizov recorded the second-most points by a U20 player in KHL history, with 77 in 133 games, and added 40 more as a 20-year-old this season. When will Minnesota Wild fans see him in green and red? Adam Pulicicchio/Getty Images

When dealing with Russian prospects, specifically the ones who don't come to North America before their draft seasons, "patience" is the key word. The unpredictability can be at times confounding or even frustrating. Whatever the case, this is not something that'll change any time soon.

For that reason, there are some NHL clubs that are going to be more hesitant to draft Russians where their talent suggests they should be selected. There's enough risk in projecting players, but there's an entirely different level of risk if there's a question of whether they'll ever sign.

There were only 34 Russian skaters in the NHL last season, but five of the NHL's top 20 scorers hail from that country. Fourteen of the Russians in the NHL had at least 30 points last season as well. Teams will continue making gambles on these players in the draft.

The safety net is that once a player is drafted out of the Russian system, the team basically holds his draft rights in perpetuity due to the lack of a formal player agreement between the NHL and KHL. When that player wants to come over, if he ever does, his options are often limited to the team that drafted him, unless a trade can be made.

There are quite a few intriguing prospects who recently completed their KHL seasons and are worth tracking a little more closely. Some are under KHL contract for a few more years, and while it used to be moderately common for a player to buy out the remainder of his contract to bolt to the NHL, it is my understanding that is no longer a viable option in most cases. Therefore, we're seeing more players stay in Russia longer than they might have in the past.

Here's a look at seven players whom I find particularly notable, with some estimates on when we might see them in the NHL.


Kirill Kaprizov, LW, Minnesota Wild