“I think it was a shock for everybody,” he told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette ahead of the Leafs’ prospects game against the Penguins. “I didn’t expect it.”
The 19-year-old was hanging out with friends in his native Finland when he got the news.
“I was just with my buddies, and I saw that my Twitter was exploding,” he said. ”I read some of the tweets and didn’t really think too much about it, but then my agent called me, so I thought something was going on.”
Originally the Penguins’ 2014 first-round selection (22nd overall) Kapanen joined the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins of the American Hockey League in April and appeared in four regular season games scoring a goal and an assist. He added three goals and two helpers in seven Calder Cup playoff games.
With the trade behind him, the 5-foot-10, 171-pound forward said he has no hard feelings towards the Penguins organization.
“I don’t hate them, or anything like that,“ he said. “Hopefully, I’ll just be a better player now. Their loss.”
Kapanen, a long shot to make the Leafs out of camp, will likely start the season in the AHL with the Marlies.
When the Penguins dealt James Neal to the Nashville Predators for Patric Hornqvist and Nick Spaling, it was viewed as a necessary change. Whether it was because of Neal’s penchant for playing things on the edge or not is up for debate, but one thing he did a lot of in Pittsburgh was score goals.
The obvious answer would be Hornqvist. In Nashville, the big Swede was able to make a living parking around the net and scoring the dirty brands of goals guys like Tomas Holmstrom and Dino Ciccarelli became known for. With the Pens, putting him around the net while Malkin, Crosby, Kunitz, and Letang fire away could mean he becomes a power play beast.
Then there’s 2014 first-round pick Kasperi Kapanen. He has the speed and skill but he’s young and untested in the NHL. If he makes the team out of training camp it could be him. Then again, the Pens’ big guns of Crosby, Malkin, and Kunitz could just all step up themselves and make up the difference.
So who pulls it off the most? That’s what we want you to answer.
When the Pittsburgh Penguins selected Kasperi Kapanen in the first-round of the 2014 NHL Draft, they knew they were getting a guy with high offensive upside. They also knew they were getting a player who could be in the NHL as soon as the upcoming season.
Kapanen was taken 22nd overall by the Pens and his history in Finland’s top league is what makes him intriguing. Penguins GM Jim Rutherford said Kapanen is a guy worth keeping an eye on through training camp as Dave Molinari of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette shared.
“We have to keep in mind that Kapanen could come in and make this team,” Rutherford said. “He’s played with men [in Finland] for two years. He’s a good player.”
Last season, the 17 year-old Finn had seven goals and 14 points with KalPa in the SM-liiga in 47 games. That may not sound like a lot, but for a kid that age doing it against players much older, it’s impressive.
Does that mean you can pencil his name in on the win with either Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin? Well, no… But it does give the Penguins another possible offensive player to work with next season. If Kapanen impresses in training camp, he can always get the nine-game peek before heading back to Finland.
The Florida Panthers are in the driver’s seat when it comes to the NHL Draft. Owning the No. 1 pick means they’ve got their choices of anyone they want. They also have the choice to trade down if it means getting a better haul.
It would take a couple of different conditions to make it work :
The Buffalo Sabres are expected to take either of the top centers in Sam Reinhart or Sam Bennett at second overall. If a team like the Islanders or Flames wanted to jump to No. 1 to get either of them ahead of Buffalo, that would allow Florida to drop to fourth or fifth to change spots and get something else out of that team.
From there, the Panthers could deal down again if they expect one of the players they have their eye on is still available. That means Florida could slide down again slightly if there’s another player a team below them is eager to grab.
Florida has a need to fill at wing and guys like William Nylander, Nikolaj Ehlers, Kevin Fiala, Kasperi Kapanen, and Brendan Perlini could/should be Top 15 picks. That gives Florida a wide array of guys to potentially settle on.
It’s all hypothesis at this point, but the drama on draft day could be sky high for the Panthers and any of the teams (outside of Buffalo perhaps) in the top 10.