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Pens GM says first-round pick Kapanen could make team right away

Jul 5, 2014, 11:30 AM EDT

Kasperi Kapanen Getty Images

When the Pittsburgh Penguins selected Kasperi Kapanen in the first-round of the 2014 NHL Draft, they knew they were getting a guy with high offensive upside. They also knew they were getting a player who could be in the NHL as soon as the upcoming season.

Kapanen was taken 22nd overall by the Pens and his history in Finland’s top league is what makes him intriguing. Penguins GM Jim Rutherford said Kapanen is a guy worth keeping an eye on through training camp as Dave Molinari of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette shared.

“We have to keep in mind that Kapanen could come in and make this team,” Rutherford said. “He’s played with men [in Finland] for two years. He’s a good player.”

Last season, the 17 year-old Finn had seven goals and 14 points with KalPa in the SM-liiga in 47 games. That may not sound like a lot, but for a kid that age doing it against players much older, it’s impressive.

Does that mean you can pencil his name in on the win with either Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin? Well, no… But it does give the Penguins another possible offensive player to work with next season. If Kapanen impresses in training camp, he can always get the nine-game peek before heading back to Finland.

  1. stixzidinia - Jul 5, 2014 at 11:37 AM

    No, he’s got to put some muscle on his frame. He’ll get knocked around if they play him in the NHL this year.

    • royalvoyager - Jul 6, 2014 at 1:20 AM

      This is an ignorant comment, you’re assuming he’s going to get knocked around just because he’s 17. Sure 5’11 and 190 lbs is small but he’s been playing against players the same size as the guys in the NHL for years. The only difference between those guys and the ones he’ll see in the NHL is skill level. They play physical too. He’s surely going to work in the off-season to get bigger and surely will break 200 lbs if he does. Plenty of guys around 5’11 210ish anyways.
      At 5’8, 180 Lbs, Martin St. Louis is much smaller and subject to being “knocked around” but he plays smart, Kapanen was drafted in the first round for a reason, he’s smart and knows exactly what he’s up against, don’t underestimate this kid.

  2. lordfletcher - Jul 5, 2014 at 11:44 AM

    when did CCM and TaylorMade join forces? (noticed in the picture)

  3. hauger88 - Jul 5, 2014 at 11:56 AM

    @lordfletcher with the first generation RBZ stick a few years back

  4. pitpenguinsrulez - Jul 5, 2014 at 11:58 AM

    I’d wait til 15-16

  5. navyeoddavee9 - Jul 5, 2014 at 2:59 PM

    5-11, 190 pounds, at 17, will get bigger

  6. djshnooks - Jul 5, 2014 at 3:53 PM

    Sabres fans thought the same about Joel Armia, who put up better stats in that league, on a worse team and was drafted higher…and he looked completely lost trying to find his way on North American ice for the first time…until the AHL playoffs.

    Expect the same from Kapanen.

    • lordfletcher - Jul 5, 2014 at 7:04 PM

      not that you’re wrong about Armia but you can’t say all prospects are the same in their transition.

      Granlund for the Wild developed well but did improve with more time on the smaller ice sheet.

      anything can happen

    • bl1nk8fan2529 - Jul 5, 2014 at 7:16 PM

      Kapanen grew up on North American ice while his dad played for the Flyers so the transition wont be difficult.

  7. chanceoffleury - Jul 5, 2014 at 8:41 PM

    He’ll “make the team out of camp” the same way a player like Saad “made the team out of camp”. He’ll make the team, play for a week and get a taste of what he’s up against in the big league, then get sent back to the Finnish league to get bigger and come back ready next year. I’ll openly admit I’m not a follower of prospects before they get drafted, so with that being said I’m really excited to go watch him at training camp this year. Haven’t had any freshly drafted forwards in a while here in Pittsburgh!

  8. phillyphanatic77 - Jul 5, 2014 at 9:34 PM

    Once again the Flyers pass on the player I wanted most in the draft and he falls to, of all teams, the Pittsburgh Penguins. A few years ago Maatta, projected by most to go top-10, is sitting there (with our terrible blueline) and we of course pick a gritty Canadian center. Not saying Laughton won’t be good, but Maatta looked like a stud then and looks even better now.

    Then this year, I’m at the draft, we desperately need a winger, and Kapanen starts falling down the board… it would’ve been the perfect story but no, we go with the wildcard; ranked 53rd by central scouting (8th by Craig Button, I know). Not saying Sanheim won’t be a productive player but how long is this franchise gonna keep passing on talented Finns, Swedes, and Russians to take big and/or gritty Canadians? Sami Kapanen was a true Flyer and now I have to hate his son.

  9. c9castine - Jul 6, 2014 at 12:29 AM

    its all speculation at this point. gotta see him with my own eyes to really give an opinion but i didnt have this thought when he got drafted.

    why/ hes played with finnish men for two years. fins are no joke they are known for playing tough well rounded hockey and guys get signed out of that league all the time, a few examples already this year.

    that and his dad was a longtime successful pro. you can learn a lot from that.

    wouldnt count him out. ill bet he comes into training camp a couple pounds heavier with room to grow and plenty of confident, or atleast as confident as he can be trying to make an NHL roster.

    • c9castine - Jul 6, 2014 at 12:30 AM

      did have that thought*

  10. storminator16 - Jul 6, 2014 at 9:18 PM

    Classic Jim Rutherford…

  11. dubblelznhell - Jul 6, 2014 at 11:29 PM

    Numbers don’t impress. There have been others in history around his age producing much better than those stat lines…..

  12. pjblake2redwings - Jul 7, 2014 at 11:21 AM

    I was soo pissed to see Kapanen fall back so many sports and to see the wings let him slide. I would have loved this Fin in the Winged Wheel sweater

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