Kasperi Kapanen Continues to Impress: Likely NHL Ready Next Season


After a brief battle with a minor injury, Pittsburgh Penguins prospect Kasperi Kapanen has returned to the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins for the AHL playoffs. And, his return has been exactly what Pens fans would have hoped it would be.

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Clearly, Kapanen is Pittsburgh’s top prospect and best bet to blossom into the elusive top-6 winger that the Penguins have been lacking. Most weren’t sure exactly what to expect when news first broke that he would be flying to North America after his Finnish team KalPa was eliminated from the Liga playoffs. Would he make an immediate impact? Would he join the Pittsburgh Penguins in the NHL?

As it turns out, Kasperi Kapanen did not have a shot at playing with the big club. But, I believe the Pittsburgh Penguins made the right decision with the young forward. There is much more to gain from him playing in the AHL without the risk of burning a year of his entry-level contract.

Kapanen scored a goal on his second shift with the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins. He showed the burst and shot that the Pittsburgh Penguins loved so much when they drafted him 22nd overall in the 2014 NHL entry draft.

You can find that goal, and a beauty of an assist in the highlights below.

Since then, Kapanen has done nothing but impress.

The Wilkes-Barre Penguins entered their first round series, which is a best of five in the AHL, versus the Syracuse Crunch on fire. They have jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the series, and Kasperi Kapanen has three goals in two games so far. The most impressive part of his quick start in North America is the lack of growing pains while familiarizing himself with a different style of hockey.

For a team like the Pittsburgh Penguins, the fact that Kasperi Kapanen is playing this well in the AHL is a huge positive. They are a team in which positives are hard to find at the moment, and it was extremely evident down the stretch that they are severely lacking solid top-6 scoring wingers.

One strong piece of advice that I can give Pittsburgh Penguins fans though, is that you should remain patient with this kid and let him develop at his own pace. Kapanen will have to add 15-20 lbs. of muscle in order to be an effective NHL forward.   He is undersized and will likely struggle in a more physical brand of hockey.

I would guess that Kasperi Kapanen has a great chance of making the Pittsburgh Penguins opening day roster next season. Of course, only time will tell.

But, it’s very encouraging to know that there’s a chance the Penguins will have a young, talented scorer to play alongside Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin while earning a rookie salary. Players that contribute while on entry level deals is crucial to building a deep, Stanley Cup champion.

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