La Velle E. Neal III
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Kirill Kaprizov lives by himself and spends most of his time at home. There's always a concern about how a newcomer from another country is adjusting to life here, but Kaprizov has little choice but to keep things simple.

"This season has been very much rink, home, sleep, travel, eat, repeat," the 24-year old said. "You haven't had a lot of free time, so it's been a unique situation. But overall, it has been fine."

The pandemic stinks for many reasons. Kaprizov can't get around and see what the Twin Cities are like. The condensed 56-game NHL schedule hasn't helped with that, either, as the Wild is coming off just its second three-day break since mid-February.

Another reason the pandemic stinks is that there are attendance restrictions at Xcel Energy Center that don't allow more fans to come out and watch Kaprizov make a run at the Calder Memorial Trophy as the NHL's Rookie of the Year.

Kaprizov made an instant impact upon arriving from Russia's KHL following a five-year wait by the Wild, which selected him in the 2015 draft. He seemed to be the latest overhyped Wild prospect but instead has proved he can be a highly productive player. He will enter Wednesday's game against St. Louis with 22 goals and 19 assists in 47 games, more production than any rookie in the league and the best of any Wild rookie.

Consequently, the Wild are headed for the postseason with a roster that has fed off him and developed depth behind him. He's usually on the same line with Mats Zuccarello and Victor Rask. Zuccarello is the savvy veteran who knows how to play with such a talent while Rask is having his most productive season since 2017-18.

Kaprizov can move and has terrific hands, hands that make jaw-dropping passes and score goals that embarrass goaltenders. His vision and creativity are also elite, as evidenced Friday as he took the puck between his legs before beating Los Angeles goaltender Calvin Petersen for a score that is still being talked about around town.

Things might be a little boring for Kaprizov at home, but his game is flourishing, on both ends, since joining the NHL.

"We have definitely seen areas of improvement," coach Dean Evason said, "but his skill set, has awareness offensively, is as high as it gets. But away from the puck his defensive coverage, his awareness. his checking, checking responsibilities in the D-zone, in the neutral zone, have gotten better and better and he works at it."

Staying at home inevitably leads Kaprizov to social media. So, yes, he's aware that Dallas' Jason Robertson is his main challenger for the Calder Trophy. Robertson had two primary assists Monday in the Stars' victory over Carolina. Robertson has two fewer points in four fewer games than Kaprizov. And there's a belief that some voters might hold Kaprizov's time in another professional league against him.

Win or not, Kaprizov is the latest rookie to hit the Twin Cities with authority. The Lynx have the last two WNBA rookies of the year in Napheesa Collier and Crystal Dangerfield, the Vikings' Justin Jefferson should have won the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year and the Wolves' Anthony Edwards is a top candidate for NBA Rookie of the Year.

So in addition to fans waiting to see if the Wild can avoid facing Colorado in the first round of the playoffs, they can watch the Kaprizov-Robertson battle for the Calder.

As he spoke to reporters on Tuesday, Kaprizov made the point that team triumphs are more important that individual awards.

He's also aware there's a race for the Calder. How can he not know? He's at home. With time on his hands. And technology.

"With all the Instagram, you do see it," he said. "Of course you see another opponent there. Yeah, it can help to motivate you. You see him and you think you want to do better, as any competitor would. Other than that I don't think about or focus about it to be honest.

"For the reporters, it is probably quite a bit of clickbait to get the ratings up. For me personally, I don't think about it much."