2014 NHL Draft Profile #14: Kasperi Kapanen
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Kasperi Kapanen is the son of former NHLer Sami Kapanen. He has been a fixture on the international stage for Finland with great results at the World Under 17 Hockey Challenge in 2013, and the World Under 18 last year. In total he put up 17 points in 12 games in those two showcase events. Unfortunately an injury kept him out of this year’s World Juniors which really could have been a showcase event for the 17-year-old. He will again being playing for Finland in this year’s Under 18s and should get the opportunity to show his skills for a wider audience. He is currently playing for Kalpa in the Finnish SM-Liiga, and even had the opportunity to play on a line with his father at times this season. Playing in the top Finnish men’s league, he put up seven goals and 14 points in 47 games this year.
Right Wing — shoots Right
Born Jul 23 1996 — Kuopio, Finland
Height 5.09 — Weight 160 [175 cm/73 kg]
Kasperi Kapanen is an outstanding skater, with great speed, and acceleration. He also has very good agility and outstanding edgework. He can cut quickly past a defender and get to the net if they don’t respect his speed off the rush. He has the ability to fool defenders with his changes of pace. His balance needs some work, as he could stand to bulk up so that he is stronger on the puck and has more of an ability to fight through checks and not get knocked off the puck by the bigger, stronger defenders he will face going forward.
Add to Kapanen’s great skating ability, a set of soft hands and great stickhandling abiltiy and its easy to see that he is deadly off the rush. He can be both a scorer and a play maker. Kapanen’s wrist shot is extremely impressive, he generates tremedous power, has lethal accuracy, and does it all with a lightning-quick release. It is close to NHL ready already, especially when he is coming down the wing. Kapanen also has a very good one-timer. As a playmaker, Kapanen has extremely good vision and passing skills, with the ability to thread the needle with a pass right on a teammates tape. Kapanen understands the game at a high-level and almost always seems to make the correct play with the puck. Without the puck, he finds the soft spots in the defence and gets open for teammates. Despite his size and age (playing in a men’s league) Kapanen is gritty and always involved in puck battles.
He also has a well-developped defensive game. Again, the hockey sense is key, as he reads the game extremely well, and cuts down passing and shooting lanes extremely well. He puts a lot of effort into his backchecking and shows a concerted effort at the defensive end, and this is one of the biggest reasons he’s gotten ice-time in the SM-Liiga despite being just 17-years old. Going forward he could stand to add some muscle and bulk up before he will be ready for the North American pro game.
In terms of style, Kapanen can play similarly to Phil Kessel of the Toronto Maple Leafs, however this is a style comparison and not one based on talent. In terms of potential, Kapanen has the ceiling to be a top six player in the NHL if he develops properly. He has the offensive skills to put up points, and the intelligence to think the game at a high-level.
You can check out some of Kasperi Kapanen’s highlights here.
Check back tomorrow for my #15 ranked prospect.
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