An apparatus for detecting potential kicks in a well is provided. In one embodiment, the apparatus includes a drill string positioned in a well, a mud circulation system coupled to supply drilling mud to the drill string, and a mud analyzer. The mud analyzer includes a sensor that is positioned along a drilling mud return path closer to a wellhead assembly installed at the well than to a mud tank of the mud circulation system, and the mud analyzer enables identification of a potential formation kick based on data acquired by the sensor. Additional systems, devices, and methods are also disclosed.
STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT
 This invention was made with United States government support under Contract No. 10121-4304-1 awarded by the Research Partnership to Secure Energy for America with funding from the United States Department of Energy. The United States government has certain rights in the invention.