Oliver Kapanen Scouting Report: 2021 NHL Draft #52

Oliver Kapanen Scouting Report

Welcome back to Top Shelf Prospects, the daily column that brings you the next crop of professional hockey players. Each day I will bring you a new player profile or topical article in the lead-up to the 2021 NHL Draft. Be sure to bookmark the site, follow me on Twitter, and spread the word for the site that will bring you analytical and critical profiles and scouting reports! Last Word On Hockey Prospects is your new headquarters for everything “2021 NHL Draft”! We have a complete listing of our draft articles here. Today we bring you our Oliver Kapanen Scouting Report. 

Oliver Kapanen was able to make his professional hockey debut this season, playing five games for JoKP in the Mestis, the second division of Finnish hockey. He scored three goals and two assists for five points in that short loan. He also played for Kalpa’s junior team in the Finnish Under-20 league. In 37 games, Kapanen scored 25 goals and 16 assists for 41 points. He joined the Finnish Team at the IIHF Under-18 World Championships. He suffered a scary injury in the tournament but has recovered.

In 2019-20, Kapanen played just two games in the Finnish Under-20 league as he was just 16 years old. He scored a goal in that brief appearance. However, he was dominant in the Under-18 league. Kapanen put up 23 goals as well as 50 points in 44 games. His efforts earned him a spot on the league’s First All-Star Team.

Kapanen comes from great hockey bloodlines. His uncle is former NHLer Sami Kapanen, and his cousin is current Pittsburgh Penguins winger Kasperi Kapanen. Oliver Kapanen’s father, Kimmo Kapanen, was a goaltender who spent a number of seasons playing professional hockey in Finland. His grandfather, Hannu Kapanen, also played professional hockey in Finland.

Oliver Kapanen Scouting Report

Centre/Right Wing — shoots Right
Born July 29th, 2003 — Sundsvall, Sweden
Height 6’1″ — Weight 179 lbs [185 cm / 81 kg]


Kapanen’s skating ability helps him to play a strong two-way game. He has a good first step and an effective stride. This gives him good acceleration as well as above-average top-end speed.  Combined with his hockey sense, Kapanen is able to keep up with the play and puts himself in the right positions at both ends of the ice. He also has good edgework and agility. His turns are tight and his crossovers help him to gain speed coming out of them. Kapanen can add muscle to his frame though. This would help him to be stronger on the puck. It would also help him to win more battles on the boards and in front of the net. Despite the need to add weight, Kapanen is willing to play an aggressive and physical style.

Offensive Game

Kapanen is known for his goal-scoring ability. He has a very good wrist shot. It is both accurate and powerful. He also has a quick release which makes things difficult for goalies. His quick hands change the angle of that release as well. Kapanen can also score with a strong one-timer. He does a good job of adjusting his feet and can get his one-timer off even if the pass is not perfect. Kapanen can also get to the front of the net where he uses his quick hands to pounce on rebounds and tip in pucks. He is able to quickly get the puck elevated and into the tight spaces that a goaltender might leave uncovered. Kapanen has a knack for getting open without the puck and is almost always in a position to take a pass from a teammate and fire it on the net.

While Kapanen is best known for his goal-scoring, he is still a decent playmaker. His game is mainly north-south though. He is not that creative with the puck. However, if a passing lane is available he has the ability to spot it and make a pass to a teammate. Kapanen also does a good job of keeping the puck moving and cycling down below the faceoff circles. As he adds muscle mass, he should improve his ability to control the puck in the cycle game. His stickhandling is decent as well. This allows him to carry the puck through the neutral zone in order to generate effective zone entries. Kapanen also gets in quickly on the forecheck and is willing to play physically despite his immature frame right now.

Defensive Game

Kapanen also has an excellent two-way game for his age. His positioning is very strong. He is almost always between his man and the front of the net. He does a really good job of cutting down passing and shooting lanes as well. Kapanen uses his body and his active stick effectively to block shots and intercept passes. He is willing to support the defence down low, containing his man and keeping him to the outside when defending against the cycle game. This should improve as he gets stronger. Kapanen is also good at reading the play, anticipating the opponent’s movements and stopping them. He is effective in supporting the defence with backpressure against the rush. When a turnover is created, Kapanen can move the puck up the ice quickly, starting the transition game. His faceoff skills are also well-developed for a player his age.

Projection and Comparison

Kapanen could develop into a middle-six centre at the NHL level. There is some question about his lack of creativity and overall offensive upside and this will likely prevent him from ever becoming a top line player. Kapanen makes up for that with his defensive game though. If he can continue to gain weight and improve his skills, he could become a solid second liner, capable of playing against the opponent’s top line. Kapanen likely needs a few years before he is NHL ready though. He is likely to spend at least a season or two with Kalpa, playing in the SM Liiga next year. He should also represent Finland at the World Juniors. Kapanen’s game is reminiscent of Ryan Kesler. This is a stylistic comparison though and not one based on skill and ability.


The following is a compilation of some of the highlight packages and features of Oliver Kapanen that are available on youtube and Twitter.

Check back later for our latest draft article.


Oliver Kapanen Scouting Report Main Photo: