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NASHVILLE — Longtime Wild prospect Marat Khusnutdinov is one step closer to suiting up in the NHL.

The Wild signed the Russian forward to a two-year, entry-level contract announced on Wednesday — almost four years after the team drafted Khusnutdinov — but when the 21-year-old could debut for the Wild is up in the air.

Before he can play, Khusnutdinov (pronounced HOOST-nuh-DEE-nov) will have to secure a work visa and visit a consulate ahead of flying to the United States, a process with an unclear timeline. President of Hockey Operations/General Manager Bill Guerin hopes it gets resolved within the week.

Khusnutdinov's contract kicks in this season after his KHL team allowed him to exit early; although his contract was up after the season and his team didn't make the playoffs, a few months remained on the deal.

He'll wear No. 22.

"Over the years, we've had multiple calls with Marat," said Guerin, who described Khusnutdinov as "excited" and credited the team's development staff for staying in contact with him. "The biggest thing is to keep the relationship and make sure that they know that we're watching."

Since getting drafted in the second round 37th overall in 2020, Khusnutdinov has continued an impressive career in Russia as a playmaker.

Last season, the 5-foot-11, 176-pound center tallied six goals and 14 assists in 49 games with HK Sochi and was named team captain after getting traded from SKA St. Petersburg.

With SKA St. Petersburg, the Moscow native became the youngest player in team history to post 50 career points.

"Marat is the type of player that can help us right now," Guerin said. "All the assets that he has — he's a solid two-way player, he's got speed, he's tenacious — those are the things we're looking for. We want to make sure we put him in a situation that he can succeed in.

"Timing of when he gets into the lineup is going to be important, but he will eventually get in the lineup."