Ever since Kasperi Kapanen was selected by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first-round (22nd overall) of this past draft, there’s been nothing but a buzz about him.
From impressing Penguins’ brass at the team’s annual prospect development camp, to Bill Guerin‘s “he’s even better than I thought he would be,” comment - per Michelle Crechiolo of the Pens’ website - Kapanen appears to be the real deal.
And at just 18-years of age, Kapanen is determined to earn a roster spot this September.
But he’s also had a discussion with another youngster who made the team last year: fellow Finn, Olli Maatta.
According to Dejan Kovacevic of DK on Pittsburgh Sports, in describing Maatta’s timeline, Kapanen reportedly told Kovacevic that he already had a chat with Mr. Maatta about his road to the NHL, and that he will try to replicate that achievement.
Here’s an excerpt from Kovacevic’s article – go and read it by the way, it’s great:
“Maybe it shouldn’t have been a surprise. After all, one training camp was all it took for Maatta to upend all of management’s plans in Pittsburgh. He gave Ray Shero, Dan Bylsma and staff no choice but to add him to the roster. None. He was, as Salo might say, that good.
I ran this little tale past Kasperi Kapanen, the Penguins’ recent first-round pick, at the team’s development camp last weekend.
Turns out there was no need.
“Oh, I know all about that. We’ve already talked,” Kapanen said of his fellow Finn. “I know what he did. And I know what I have to do.””
Perhaps, playing in an NHL-version of a league over in Finland – the Finnish Elite League – will guide Kapanen to a roster spot with Pittsburgh? Who knows. Or, maybe, because Kapanen knows the game exponentially due to his father being a former NHL player, Sami Kapanen, it’ll prepare him for what he has to do in order to make the team?
Either way, with comparisons to Maatta’s maturity and how skilled he is at the forward position, Kapanen seems to be a gem. And what better irony to select him 22nd overall, where Maatta was taken.
I’m expecting Kapanen to strongly compete in September, however, I see him back in Finland for another year. Listen, there’s always a possibility this kid can crack the lineup, but I just have this feeling he’ll need a little more time to develop.
But if Kapanen makes the team, I’m just as excited to watch him as the next fan.
Tags: Pittsburgh Penguins