NHL Free Agents 2021: Kirill Kaprizov, Brady Tkachuk Rumors and Predictions

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistAugust 10, 2021

NHL Free Agents 2021: Kirill Kaprizov, Brady Tkachuk Rumors and Predictions

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    The 2021 edition of NHL free agency is already beginning to wind down. The market opened on July 28, and most of the top unrestricted free agents are already off the board.

    A few notable free agents do remain unsigned—including six-time All-Star center Eric Staal—but some teams may now be more interested in the restricted-free-agent market. It just so happens that there is some buzz regarding two intriguing RFAs: Minnesota Wild forward Kirill Kaprizov and Ottawa Senators winger Brady Tkachuk.

    Here we'll dive into the latest Kaprizov and Tkachuk rumors and make some free-agent predictions for all three of the aforementioned players.

    Let's dig in.

Kirill Kaprizov Threatening KHL Return

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    Kaprizov was named to the NHL All-Rookie team this past season and was awarded the Calder Memorial Trophy. Naturally, the Wild would love to keep Kaprizov and help the 24-year-old build off of his impressive 51-point season.

    However, Minnesota and the restricted free agent are at odds on a long-term contract extension.

    "The Wild, which began contract talks with Kaprizov's agent Paul Theofanous in March, have long had offers on the table for seven years and eight years in the $9 million range, sources continue to say," The Athletic's Michael Russo wrote. "That would be by far the richest annual contract in franchise history for the 2021 Calder Trophy winner."

    However, Kaprizov is seeking a shorter deal and is using CSKA Moscow as leverage.

    "Hearing Kirill Kaprizov has a tentative agreement in place with CSKA Moscow on a one-year, 8-figure deal ($USD) to begin on Sept. 1—should a new contract not materialize with [the Wild]," Daily Faceoff's Frank Seravalli tweeted. "However, the Wild appear ready and willing to talk a medium-term length deal."

    Per Seravalli, Kaprizov's camp insists it hasn't received a new contract offer since April. Expect that to change in the coming weeks, as Kaprizov's KHL threat appears very real.

    Prediction: Kaprizov, Minnesota agree on four-year extension.

Brady Tkachuk Waiting to See Ottawa's Plan

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    Ottawa winger Tkachuk is also coming off an impressive campaign. The 21-year-old followed up his 2020 All-Star season with a 56-game, 36-point run with the Senators. While the restricted free agent isn't opposed to signing a long-term deal with Ottawa, he reportedly wants to know in which direction the franchise is willing to go.

    "Been asking around on the Tkachuk contract, and nothing new at this point," TSN's Shawn Simpson tweeted. What was told to me by someone close to the Tkachuk camp is that Brady loves the crew in Ottawa. But he's totally waiting to see if ownership is willing to spend what it takes to deliver a Cup team."

    While this doesn't mean that Tkachuk will refuse to sign an extension with Ottawa, it could mean that he's looking for a short-term deal while assessing the franchise's future. It seems that Tkachuk will have no qualms about staying for the long haul if the Senators are willing to put a championship team around him.

    "It was made very clear that he would be all-in long term if ownership does the same," Simpson said in a separate tweet. "At the same time they know the business and won't be playing any games."

    Expect Tkachuk to sign before the start of training camp but to take a wait-and-see approach with a short-term deal.

    Prediction: Tkachuk signs a two-year deal with Ottawa.

Eric Staal Still Looking to Play

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    While Kaprizov and Tkachuk are just getting their careers started, the 36-year-old Staal appears to be nearing the end of his. However, he and brother Marc Staal (34) are looking to play during the 2021-22 season.

    "Eric Staal and Marc Staal, both UFAs, each want to play next season," Pierre LeBrun of TSN tweeted in July. "Believe there will be options on the market for both. Door isn't closed on Detroit, either for Marc, or on Montreal for Eric."

    Marc has already rejoined the Detroit Red Wings, and while the Montreal Canadiens could be an option for Eric, there could be several familiar options.

    Eric Staal has also played for the Carolina Hurricanes, New York Rangers, Buffalo Sabres and the Wild. He was traded from Buffalo to Montreal in March.

    While Staal may no longer be the scoring machine he was early in his career—he had just 13 points in 53 games last season—his experience and leadership could prove to be valuable in a depth role. A resurgence could also be possible, as he scored 47 points (19 goals) only two seasons ago.

    If Staal is looking to enjoy his time this season, a return to Carolina—a franchise with which he spent 12 years—would make a ton of sense.

    Prediction: Stall signs one-year deal with Hurricanes.