Kasperi Kapanen came into the first round of the NHL Draft on Friday ranked as the No. 1 European skater by the league’s Central Scouting Bureau.
But he was forced to sit and watch as the selections went by and others young teenage players heard their names called in Philadelphia. It wasn’t until the 22nd overall pick that Kapanen finally took a walk up onto the giant stage, taken by the Pittsburgh Penguins and their new general manager Jim Rutherford.
There’s a connection there.
Kapanen is the son of former NHLer and Carolina Hurricanes winger Sami Kapanen. Rutherford, the former GM in Carolina and Hartford before that, selected the father in the fourth round of the 1995 draft. According to the NHL, the Kapanen father-and-son combination played on the same team – KalPA in the SM liiga – for the past two years.
Yet it was interesting to see the younger Kapanen fall through the round, especially considering that other European players William Nylander, Kevin Fiala and Jakub Vrana – all ranked below Kapanen – went well before him in the draft.
Size might be one issue. He’s listed at 5’11” and 180 pounds, but Goran Stubb of European Scouting said in his draft profile that the right winger didn’t shy away from rough or physical play. His skating was also lauded as a quality he possesses.
According to TSN, Kapanen suffered a shoulder injury prior to selection of the Finnish World Junior team, and low production in KalPa may have have also contributed to his fall.