Jul 20, 2014, 8:00 AM EST
Pittsburgh Penguins 2014 first-rounder Kasperi Kapanen must clear a few significant hurdles to jump straight to the NHL. Even so, the rave reviews keep pouring in about a player who isn’t even 18 yet.
Penguins assistant GM Bill Guerin was the latest to rave about the 22nd overall pick as he made his first appearances at the Consol Energy Center as part of the team’s development camp.
“He’s even better than I thought he would be,” Guerin told NHL.com. “So I was very happy with him. He’s just high-end talent, high-end speed. He’s a very, very mature kid for his age. Obviously, having his father [Sami Kapanen] playing so many years in the NHL and playing with him and bringing him up that way, he’s already a pro.”
It could be a big few months for Kapanen.
He’ll turn 18 on July 23. Penguins training camp takes place in September. Making the opening night roster doesn’t guarantee him a full-time spot in 2014-15, especially since the team would have to mull over the pros and cons of burning a year off of his entry-level contract.
Kapanen admits that it’ll be tough to get ready for that training camp experience, as he noted multiple times that his legs hadn’t been totally with him at development camp in particular. That admission might just be more reason to get excited: Penguins brass are this ecstatic about Kapanen and they still may not have seen the best he has to offer yet.
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