A year after Kirill Kaprizov announced his presence in the National Hockey League, the Minnesota Wild seem to have another star on their hands.
Matt Boldy is only 13 games into his career, but his impact on the Wild has already been felt. Minnesota went 11-1-1 with Boldy in the lineup and his game not only stacked with some of the best rookies in the game, but is comparable to Kaprizov’s Calder Trophy season.
Kaprizov took over the league from the moment he stepped on the ice. He scored the winning goal in his first career game and had nine points (3 G, 6 A) in his first 13 games.
Those numbers are solid, but they also came against a weaker schedule. Ten of the opponents in that streak did not make the playoffs and at the age of 24 Kaprizov was old for a rookie.
Boldy’s arrival had a similar effect. After becoming the fourth rookie in Wild history to record a hat trick in Monday’s win over Detroit, he has seven goals and seven assists in 13 games. Six of those opponents are currently on track to qualify for the playoffs and at the age of 20, Boldy is only scratching the surface.
In no area were Boldy’s skills more evident than on the power play. Through the first 31 games of the season, the Wild went 21-for-109 (19.2 percent) with the man advantage. While Minnesota has converted 9 of 42 opportunities (21.4%) since Boldy’s debut, the rookie has accounted for six of those goals.
The residual effect was the rebirth of Kevin Fiala. The winger suffered a slump to start the season with just 21 points (7 G, 14 A) in his first 31 games. But with Boldy’s playing ability on the other end of the ice, Fiala woke up to 16 points (7 G, 9 A) in his last 13 games. That includes points in 12 of 13 games on a line with Boldy.
But the biggest comparison to Kaprizov is Boldy’s impact on the Wild’s success. Minnesota is 7-0-1 when Boldy scores a point, which is in the same vein as the Wild’s 56-10-5 record when Kaprizov is on the scoresheet.
That resume is even better compared to some of the NHL’s top rookies. Boldy doesn’t have the better point total than Detroit’s Lucas Raymond (13 G, 26 A, 39 P). It also doesn’t have the jaw-dropping highlights that Anaheim’s Trevor Zegras has. But he leads all rookies averaging 1.07 points per game.
According to Stathead, only five players have averaged a point per game with a minimum of 41 games played since the NHL instituted a salary cap in 1983.
Assuming Boldy could maintain that pace is a high expectation. But if he hadn’t broken his ankle in the Wild’s last pre-season game, there’s a chance he’s in the hunt for the Calder Trophy and is already scoring at a point pace. per game for more than 41 games.
Only one rookie (Pavel Bure, 1991-92) in the past 30 years has won the Calder Trophy after playing less than 75 games, according to Zone Coverage’s Tony Abbott.
Boldy’s small sample size shows how he can help the Wild qualify for the playoffs and become a cornerstone for the future, if not one of the best players in the league.