In the summer of 2019, the Minnesota Wild drafted Vladislav Firstov following a superlative season with the Waterloo Black Hawks; on Wednesday, Firstov signed the professional contract which will bring him into the Wild organization.
The native of Yaroslavl, Russia, was just 17 when he came to the Cedar Valley. Firstov notched a pair of assists in his USHL debut, then potted his first goal the following weekend on the way to 58 points (26 goals, 32 assists). He ranked second in scoring among USHL rookies, finishing one point behind Shane Pinto, currently of the Ottawa Senators. After the season, Firstov was recognized on the USHL All-Rookie First Team.
Firstov proved his durability by playing in all 62 Black Hawks games, scoring multiple goals in five of them. He had three points in a game on three different occasions, and produced six game-winning goals. Firstov also had a +11 plus/minus differential.
After the season, the Wild selected him during the second round of the 2019 NHL Draft, 42nd overall. That equaled Jack Drury (2018, Carolina Hurricanes) for the fifth-highest NHL draft choice in Waterloo history.
During the past three seasons at the University of Connecticut, Firstov tallied identical scoring numbers to his Black Hawks statistics (26 goals, 32 assists, 58 points) while skating in 82 games for the Huskies. He also appeared during the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championships.
Three former Black Hawks have dressed in regular season games for the Wild. J.T. Brown had the most appearances (56), all during the 2018/19 season. Justin Kloos was the first to take the ice for Minnesota in 2017/18. Earlier this year, Rem Pitlick joined the Wild for several months before being acquired by the Montreal Canadiens.
For the remainder of the 2021/22 season, Firstov will play for Minnesota’s AHL affiliate, the Des Moines-based Iowa Wild. Iowa’s roster includes forward Nick Swaney, the only other Black Hawk to ever be drafted by Minnesota. Firstov’s NHL contract runs through the end of the 2024/25 NHL season.