Nino Niederreiter, Mikael Granlund, and Wild prospect Kirill Kaprizov were the only three to represent Minnesota at the IIHF World Championships, and all fell short of the illustrious gold. While one came away with a little less disappointment and a little more bling than the other two, the World Championships were a success individually for each Wild player.
Now they will all be able to head to the off-season and get to work with the Wild organization. That is unless Mikael Granlund is at all mad about team Finland’s loss to Nino Niederreiter and team Switzerland. That being the case, there might be a little more anticipation on Mikael Granlund’s part to compete with Niederreiter out on the ice in the coming off-season and things might heat up a little more which could prove to be healthy and boost each others play for next season.
But that might be a story for another day. For now, let us take a look at how each Minnesota Wild player and their respective country fared throughout the weeks of play through the World Championships.
After helping team Russia win Gold in Pyeongchang at the Winter Olympics, Kaprizov was set for nothing less than a gold again. This time in Copenhagen at the IIHF World Championships, which seems like an easy enough task until you realize that Connor McDavid from team Canada showed up and a greater deal of NHL athletes were in participation this time around.
Finishing with nine points in five games and grabbing the golden goal for team Russia to seal the deal in Pyeongchang, Kaprizov did not disappoint this time around either. Scoring six goals on 16 shots on goal and dishing out two assists. With a +8 plus/minus on 15:45 minutes per game through eight games. Kaprizov took the number four spot in the final rankings for the goal scoring leaders, finishing ahead of the likes of top-tier NHL talent like David Pastrnak and McDavid.
40 year old Pavel Datsyuk at Worlds had the most points 10 (2+8) for team Russia in 8 games followed by our other superstar client 21 year old #mnwild prospect Kirill Kaprizov 8 points (6+2). Datsyuk also won 63.5% of face-offs. pic.twitter.com/ZOdNonJ7aS— Dan Milstein-Hockey (@HockeyAgent1) May 18, 2018
The 21-year-old is slowly starting to make his name known against NHL talent but unfortunately will not see NHL ice time till 2020 as he is under contract with CSKA Moscow yet the Wild obtain his rights after drafting him in 2015.
Team Russia finished off the preliminary rounds in second place of preliminary group A, four points behind team Sweden and were tied for third with the tournaments best goal differential at +22. In what was a tight game that was ultimately decided in OT, team Russia fell short and lost 5-4 in game #57 of the quarterfinals to Canada. Team Russia finished at the number six spot in the tournaments final rankings.
As the captain of team Finland, Granlund did his job in grounding the young team through the preliminary rounds with a first place spot in preliminary round group B. Unfortunately for Granlund and his team, Switzerland came out of the woodworks to be the underdog of the tournament and make their way to the gold medal game against Sweden.
Granlund finished off the tournament with two goals on 23 shots on goal and seven assists. With a +3 plus/minus through eight games. He averaged the teams second highest minutes on ice per game with a total of 20:23.
A solid outing from the captain considering the team was seeing the likes of Sebastian Aho who finished with a tournament second highest points total. With Aho doing the scoring, Granlund could dish out the assists and rack up assists.
Team Finland looking like one of the top teams in the tournament after the prelims were knocked off 3-2 in game #60 by team Switzerland and his teammate on the Wild, none other than Nino Niederreiter. Finland finished off in the final rankings slotted in at the number five spot.
There isn’t much to say about team Switzerland and what they were able to accomplish except for just...”wow,” as simple as that.
Nino Niederreiter and team Switzerland made upset after upset on their way to the gold medal match, something that not many thought would happen. Knocking off Finland who was looking to chug along with Canada in the semi-finals but was met by their match in Switzerland. And then knocking off a, if not the, top-tier team in the world in Canada.
Niederreiter at many times seemed to be that spark plug for team Switzerland throughout the tournament. Especially when it came to the gold medal match by nothing in the first goal and getting the pace of the game flowing from then on.
Niederreiter opens the scoring for @SwissIceHockey! #SWEvsSUI pic.twitter.com/KLp7e5RdGQ— IIHF (@IIHFHockey) May 20, 2018
The 25-year-old unfortunately would come up short in the shootout as he needed to notch in a goal to keep Switzerland’s hopes alive but couldn’t quite come up with it. Although the winger had an outstanding tournament and by one unanimous coach was even selected as the best player from team Switzerland. While he might not have been selected as the best forward as decided by the Directorate, that is still an honor as these coaches see first hand what one player can do out there on the ice.
Niederreiter finished the tournament with four goals on 30 shots on goal and five assists. With a +6 plus/minus, second best on the roster, on 19:43 minutes per game through 10 games.
Team Switzerland fell just shy of the Gold as they were edged in the shootout in the Gold Medal match 3-2 by Sweden. And what a game it was indeed, with Niederreiter’s first goal, the pace of the game seemed to pick up. Unfortunately, Sweden had an answer each time the Swiss fired home a goal. And when it came down to the penalties, Sweden’s net-minder and his poke check would get the best of more than a few. And thus the historic run that Niederreiter and company were on would come to a close at the hands of Sweden. Although the Swiss take home the silver - something still to be proud of.