“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.