Featured Posts | Vikings

Zulgad’s Roundup: Kaprizov’s mistake, Barr unlikely to play, Vikings draft hits and misses

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Vegas Golden Knights at Minnesota Wild
May 20, 2021; Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Wild forward Kirill Kaprizov (97) looks on after a goal allowed during the second period in game three of the first round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Vegas Golden Knights at Xcel Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

The latest edition of Zulgad’s Roundup:

  • The Wild are set to take the ice for the first time on Sept. 23 and yet the Kirill Kaprizov soap opera continues with a growing chance he will miss the start of training camp. Wild beat writer Michael Russo of The Athletic reported Wednesday that “things have suddenly become contentious again in negotiations” between Kaprizov and the team. The Wild’s offer is believed to be five years for $9 million per season. That’s a compromise since Kaprizov rejected the Wild’s offer of eight years, and Wild general manager Bill Guerin made it clear he would not give Kaprizov a three-year deal and walk him into free agency. So what’s the hang up? That’s the key question and it’s one that Kaprizov’s agent, Paul Theofanous, needs to answer. Did Theofanous promise Kaprizov he would get him a three-year contract? Did he promise he’d get him more money than $9 million per on a five-year contract? The problem for Kaprizov is he has zero leverage, unless he wants to not play hockey. The KHL season has started, so the threat of signing a lucrative deal with CSKA Moscow appears to be gone. Kaprizov doesn’t have a contract for 2021-22, but he also has zero free-agent rights. That leaves him with one choice: Signing with Minnesota. If he wanted more rights at this point, he would have come over and started playing for the Wild after being a fifth-round pick in 2015. Instead, he elected to stay in Russia. That’s fine but Kaprizov and Theofanous have to realize that this is a situation they can’t dictate. Guerin’s first GM as a player with the Devils was Lou Lamoriello so it’s safe to assume Guerin knows all about winning a negotiation.
  • It won’t be surprising if the Vikings decide to sit linebacker Anthony Barr in the regular-season opener Sunday in Cincinnati. Barr returned to practice on a limited basis Wednesday after sitting out since early August because of a knee issue but he did not practice on Thursday. That would seem to indicate Barr might have had some soreness when he woke up Thursday. The veteran was lost for the 2020 season after suffering a torn pectoral muscle in the Vikings’ second game at Indianapolis and the last thing the team wants to do is lose him again for an extended period. Eric Kendricks and Nick Vigil likely will be the linebackers in the nickel defense Sunday.
  • The Vikings’ 11-player draft class from this spring all remain with the team. Seven made the 53-man roster, while one (TE Zach Davidson) is on the practice squad and three (RB Kene Nwangwu, DE Janarius Robinson and DT Jaylen Twyman) are on injured reserve. Dating to the 2017 draft, general manager Rick Spielman has made 57 selections. Twenty-six of those picks remain on the 53-man roster, 24 players are no longer with the franchise, three are on the practice squad and four on injured reserve. First-round-round picks who are gone include cornerbacks Mike Hughes (30th pick in 2018) and Jeff Gladney (31 in 2020). Only three of the 19 picks from the 2017 and 2018 drafts remain. Second-round running back Dalvin Cook is the only remaining Viking from the 2017 draft, and second-round right tackle Brian O’Neill and fifth-round tight end Tyler Conklin are the only picks from 2018 still with Minnesota.
  • Hughes, who was limited to 24 games and seven starts in three seasons because of injuries, made the Kansas City roster after being traded to the Chiefs during the offseason. The Vikings sent a 2022 seventh-round pick, along with Hughes, to Kansas City for a 2022 sixth-round selection.
  • Could Mike Zimmer end up returning to Cincinnati in 2022, if things don’t work out with the Vikings this year? Zimmer, who was hired by the Vikings in 2014 after being the Bengals’ defensive coordinator for six seasons, could be a candidate to replace Zac Taylor. Taylor enters Sunday’s game with a 6-25-1 record in his first two seasons in Cincinnati and has won back-to-back games only once. The 38-year-old Taylor was hired after two seasons on the Los Angeles Rams’ coaching staff and is the son-in-law of former Packers general manager and coach Mike Sherman.
  • It’s never been exactly clear why Stefon Diggs wanted out of Minnesota, but the Buffalo Bills star wide receiver acknowledges that he wasn’t a good teammate by the end of his time with the Vikings. “Coming from my old team — I hate talking about old stuff — but up to me wanting to leave and go to another place, I was a good teammate,” said Diggs, who was voted one of the Bills’ eight captains this season. “It wasn’t until I wanted to do something else is when I became a bad teammate. So as far as when things are going good, it’s all good until it’s not good. So for me, even then, I always tried to play with a chip on my shoulder and lead my team the best way I know how. Coming here I had a fresh start. It was fair for people to make their assumptions or their assessments from the outside looking in. That’s fair. I just look at it as, when I get there I’ll show them who I am and we’ll go from there. As far as my new chapter with my new team, things are going pretty good.”
  • While the Vikings are expecting a big second season from standout wide receiver Justin Jefferson, the Bengals drafted Jefferson’s former LSU teammate, Ja’Marr Chase, with the fifth pick in this year’s draft. The rookie wide receiver was plagued by drop issues during training camp and there have to be concerns entering the season. Jefferson, the 22nd pick in the first round in 2020, said the shoulder injury he suffered in camp is healed and he’s good to go.
  • What are the odds Ben Simmons winds up with the Timberwolves? Bovada has the disgruntled Philadelphia 76ers star as +300 to play game one of the 2021-22 NBA season with Minnesota. Only Simmons’ current team has better odds at +200. Portland (+400) and Sacramento (+500) are right behind the Wolves.
  • Several Wolves players are in Miami this week for workouts that were organized by Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell, according to SKOR North Scoops insider Darren “Doogie” Wolfson.
  • The Twins and Bally Sports North have spent the past few seasons rotating analysts to work with play-by-play man Dick Bremer. Former Twins closer Glen Perkins impressed during his time in the booth this season with his ability to explain the game. He also did not come across as a guy trying to make excuses for the team’s terrible season. Perkins has done mostly studio work, but the Twins and BSN would be wise to explore making him the regular analyst.
  • Former Twins DH Nelson Cruz slashed .200/.262/.426 and had seven home runs and 21 RBIs in his first 29 games after being traded to Tampa Bay in late July. In his first eight games of September, Cruz slashed .361/.378/.750 with four homers and 11 RBIs. Cruz’s production makes the trade a win-win for both sides, considering how good Joe Ryan looked in his first two starts for the Twins. The righty is a 1-1 with a 2.25 ERA and had a perfect game into the seventh inning before Cleveland’s Amed Rosario singled to left with one out in a 3-0 Twins win on Wednesday.
  • One of the most baffling decisions by the Twins in the second half of the season has been the continued insistence that shortstop Andrelton Simmons be in the lineup. Simmons brings little at the plate, is playing on a one-year, $10.5 million contract and reportedly had no teams interested in him at the trade deadline. Nonetheless, the Twins have continued to give him regular playing time, in part because of the feeling that his defense provides a boost to the Twins’ pitchers. But Simmons wasn’t at short on Wednesday when Ryan started, Jorge Polanco got the assignment, and if the Twins aren’t going to use Simmons when Ryan starts, why feel a need to use him for any other pitcher? No one is more important on the current staff than Ryan. Sitting Simmons enables guys like Nick Gordon to get valuable playing time.
  • Parting Thought: You have to wonder if Zimmer and Kirk Cousins getting together to watch film of the Bengals’ offense this week — Zimmer said Cousins made the request to do it — is an attempt by the quarterback to extend an olive branch to his coach?