Pittsburgh Penguins: What Could They Expect from Kapanen or Sundqvist in Playoffs?


Much has been said recently about the possibility of the Pittsburgh Penguins bringing back young forward prospects Kasperi Kapanen or Oskar Sundqvist for this season’s playoff run.

With the Pens working through numerous injuries, just as they have been all season, and losing 6 of their last 10 games, there’s certainly more to be desired from this group at the moment.

More from Penguins News

While they still boast an elite roster, the prospect of bringing in some fresh young legs to energize this team is an enticing one.

Would that truly be the case if the young forwards were brought to Pittsburgh, though?

All contract issues aside, what could the Pens expect from the young forwards if they brought them to Pittsburgh?

Let’s take a look at how the two have performed with their respective teams this season.

Kasperi Kapanen, KalPa Kuopio

2014-15 Stats: 21 points (11 goals, 10 assists) in 41 games

The high-flying Kapanen possesses loads of raw talent, but at only 18 years of age, there is much ground to be covered in terms of developing that skill and complementing it with a reliable defensive game.

Playing with grown men in the Finnish Liiga, Kapanen has yet to truly break out in a manner that suggests he’s ready for the physical grind of the NHL.

He’s posted 11 goals in 41 games, projecting to a 20-goal season over a full 82 games. While the numbers don’t exactly jump off the page as reason to bring Kapanen into the NHL at the most pivotal time of the year, his skill is undeniable:

Regardless of his notable skill, however, Kapanen simply does not yet have the size, strength, or a strong enough understanding of the NHL style of game to succeed in the playoff grind.

Set to face tough, hard-nosed Eastern conference clubs like the New York Islanders or New York Rangers, Kapanen’s 5’10”, 171-pound frame isn’t going to do much damage for the Penguins.

While Kapanen’s game has never been about physicality, it isn’t clear that he yet has enough skill to bypass this physical game and make an immediate impact offensively (a la Calgary’s Johnny Gaudreau).

Having an understanding of the game rooted entirely in the European style, and not that of the NHL, won’t do him any favours either.

The Verdict: While it may seem enticing due to the promise of Kapanen’s talent, now is simply not the time to throw him into the postseason fire and hope for the best.

Oskar Sundqvist, Skelleftea AIK

2014-15 Stats: 19 points (9 goals, 10 assists) in 41 games

Sundqvist is a different story. While his offensive production in the Swedish Hockey League has been similarly less than awe-inspiring, the young Sundqvist possesses a number of advantages over his fellow rookie prospects.

Firstly, he’s got a much bigger frame. At 6’3″, 209 lbs, Sundqvist has the size of a legitimate NHL forward, and plays in a manner that utilizes this physical advantage. He plays hard and isn’t afraid to leave it all on the ice – surely a plus when it comes to playoff-style hockey.

As well, he’s a right-handed shot and plays the center position. Sundqvist could possibly slot in on the Pens’ fourth line, either at center or moved to the wing with Maxim Lapierre keeping his spot as the fourth line pivot.

One look at Sundqvist’s play and its clear he has the offensive skill to contribute:

The Verdict: The same risks that exist with Kapanen are certainly there with Sundqvist, but the latter’s size and style of play suggest he could be a solid addition for the Pens in a limited role. Sundqvist isn’t going to come in and guide Pittsburgh to a Stanley Cup, but he could still be a game-changer.

He’s young, hungry, and may just be ready for a shot at NHL action.

More from Pens Labyrinth