Pittsburgh Penguins Prospect Kasperi Kapanen Could Make an Immediate Impact


The Pittsburgh Penguins are not a team known for being deep when it comes to the prospects pool. The biggest reason for that is former General Manager Ray Shero constantly trading away draft picks for rental players that end up leaving Pittsburgh at season’s end. When you combine that with his tendency to use his early-round picks on only defensive prospects, it leaves the Pittsburgh Penguins with very little offensive talent in their system.

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Although there is a new GM in town in Jim Rutherford, he continued that trend this season.  Rutherford traded away their first and fourth round picks in 2015, along with their second round pick in 2016 for David Perron and Daniel Winnik.  The teams third round pick was already forfeited by Ray Shero in a trade that brought in Marcel Goc at last seasons trade deadline. That leaves the Penguins with only a 2nd round pick in the first four rounds in a very talented 2015 NHL Entry Draft.

The Penguins need to add top-six talent, and even though a trade is likely to come, could Kasperi Kapanen step into that role?

Kasperi Kapanen, the son of Sami Kapanen, is projected to be a great top-six talent by many in the Pittsburgh Penguins organization. While playing for Kalpa Kuopio of the Finish Elite League, Kapanen put up impressive numbers with 21 points in 41 games. Now, 21 points in 41 games may not seem like great numbers to many people when thinking of Kapanen being a top-six forward in the NHL, but the Finish Elite League is known for being defensive minded. Also, he wasn’t playing with Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin.

Kapanen possesses a wicked shot, which is something this team has been lacking in the top-six since trading away James Neal, other than Crosby and Malkin of course. David Perron has a good shot but is known for his quick hands and ability to crash the net. Patric Hornqvist is also a player who makes his living by cashing in within a few feet from the net.  And Chris Kunitz, well who knows what he is capable of doing anymore.

Once Kapanen was recalled to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Baby Penguins, the team was seen as having one of the elite forwards in the AHL and he certainly proved that when he scored a goal off of a wicked shot on just his second shift in North America. He was also very productive in the AHL playoffs putting up three goals and two assists in seven games played.

There is a whole lot of excitement when it comes to Kapanen. The biggest question with him is seeing how long it will take for him to translate to the smaller North American ice. The Pittsburgh Penguins haven’t had this much hype over a young forward prospect in years, and it’s refreshing to see some offensive talent in the organization.  Hopefully Kapanen will prove to be the top-six wing the Pens have struggled to find and he can keep up his production.

Next: Offseason Grades: Marc-Andre Fleury

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