Pittsburgh Penguins 2014 first-rounder Kasperi Kapanen must clear a few significant hurdles to jump straight to the NHL. Even so, the rave reviews keep pouring in about a player who isn’t even 18 yet.
Penguins assistant GM Bill Guerin was the latest to rave about the 22nd overall pick as he made his first appearances at the Consol Energy Center as part of the team’s development camp.
“He’s even better than I thought he would be,” Guerin told NHL.com. “So I was very happy with him. He’s just high-end talent, high-end speed. He’s a very, very mature kid for his age. Obviously, having his father [Sami Kapanen] playing so many years in the NHL and playing with him and bringing him up that way, he’s already a pro.”
It could be a big few months for Kapanen.
He’ll turn 18 on July 23. Penguins training camp takes place in September. Making the opening night roster doesn’t guarantee him a full-time spot in 2014-15, especially since the team would have to mull over the pros and cons of burning a year off of his entry-level contract.
Kapanen admits that it’ll be tough to get ready for that training camp experience, as he noted multiple times that his legs hadn’t been totally with him at development camp in particular. That admission might just be more reason to get excited: Penguins brass are this ecstatic about Kapanen and they still may not have seen the best he has to offer yet.
Related: Penguins GM says Kapanen could make that immediate jump.
The Calgary Flames have released Ryan Wilson from his professional tryout.
The 28-year-old was trying to make a comeback after missing 79 games with a shoulder injury last season.
Even with T.J. Brodie sidelined because of a broken hand, Wilson still faced long odds to make the final roster.
The veteran will be hard-pressed to find NHL work with another team.
He hasn’t suited up in more than 12 regular season games since 2011-12.
The Stockton Heat, Calgary’s AHL affiliate, also made some news on Sunday.
The club announced that they’ve signed Colton Orr to an AHL contract.
The 33-year-old tough guy suited up in just one game for the Toronto Maple Leafs last season. He has 12 seasons of NHL experience under his belt.
The Arizona Coyotes have returned Dylan Strome to the Erie Otters of the OHL.
Strome, 18, was the third overall pick in the 2015 NHL draft.
The 6’3, 185 pounder was hoping to stick with the Coyotes this season, but the team decided to take the conservative approach with their top prospect.
Strome will look to build off an incredible junior season that saw him score 45 goals and 129 points in 68 games.
Strome seems to be taking the demotion in stride.
The team also announced that they’ve assigned goaltender Louis Domingue and forward Matthias Plachta to their AHL affiliate in Springfield.
Domingue, 23, had a 1-2-1 record with a 2.73 goals-against-average and a .911 save percentage in seven games last season.
Plachta, a free agent signing, will begin his first pro season in North America. The 24-year-old had 14 goals and 35 points in the German League last season.