Jim Souhan
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The nickname?

"Kirill The Thrill" will do.

The pronunciation?

Kah-PREE-zov, as in scoring spree.

His debut?

One of the best, if not the best, in Minnesota sports history, a three-point performance including the winning goal in overtime after he stole the puck outside the blue line.

The stats?

He leads the Wild in scoring by two points after four games, having scored or assisted on all three of the team's game-winning goals.

The challenge?

Replicating the magic of his first NHL game now that opponents view him as a primary threat instead of an incoming oddity.

Friday night, Kaprizov will make his Xcel Energy Center debut against San Jose. While he still has much to prove, he has justified the excitement over his arrival, producing in bulk and in the clutch while displaying uncommon hands, intelligence and stamina.

His immediate excellence salvaged the first week of the Wild's season. It also highlighted the team's weaknesses, and hoisted a red flag.

After four games, Kevin Fiala and Zach Parise have failed to record a point, even though they play on the power play and their team has produced 11 goals. The two are a combined minus-3.

Nick Bjugstad and Victor Rask, the two centers coach Dean Evason has tried on the first line between Kaprizov and Parise, have produced one goal and zero assists.

The Wild's two other centers, Joel Eriksson Ek and Nick Bonino, were productive in game four, with Bonino scoring on an odd play from the faceoff circle and Eriksson Ek burying a beautiful shot for the game-winning goal Wednesday night in Anaheim.

Once again, the Wild has a center problem, one it needs to fix quickly if it is going to get necessary value from Parise and Fiala.

Rask is not a first-line center. Bjugstad already has lost his spot on the first line.

Wild General Manager Bill Guerin needs to find the right complement for Parise and Kaprizov, and trading for a first-line center is probably impossible at this juncture of the season, and will be expensive if the right player becomes available at the trade deadline.

Unless and until Guerin can find a No. 1 center, Evason is going to have to hold tryouts.

The next player to get a shot should be Eriksson Ek.

He's not any contender's idea of a No. 1 center, at least not yet, but he's tied for second on the team in points and tied for first in plus-minus, at plus-4.

For someone who looked skinny and overwhelmed at times earlier in his career, he showed admirable fight Wednesday night, even staring down Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf in front of the Wild net during a scrum.

The Wild's other options are Bonino, now centering the second line, and Marcus Johansson, currently playing opposite Fiala on the second line.

Eriksson Ek might not prove to be the answer, but what has the Wild got to lose?

In many ways, the Wild is a quintessential post-Puckett Minnesota sports team. It's talented, but not at the positions that matter most.

The Vikings are always searching for a quarterback.

The Timberwolves are always searching for a winning point guard.

The Twins are always looking for an ace.

The Wild is always looking for centers who can produce offensively.

(The Lynx are exempted from this conversation. Not because of gender, but because of accomplishment.)

Former captain Mikko Koivu, now with Columbus, remains the quintessential Wild center. He never realized his scoring potential, instead building a long career marked by reliability and defense, becoming both admirable and limiting.

For once, the Wild has three true scorers waiting for the puck. If Eriksson Ek can win the job, the Wild will have temporarily solved one of its few glaring problems, or at least bought Guerin some time.

Jim Souhan's podcast can be heard at TalkNorth.com. On Twitter: @SouhanStrib. jsouhan@startribune.com