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Guerin says Pens’ Kapanen is even better than expected

Jul 20, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

2014 NHL Draft - Portraits Getty Images

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.

Related: Penguins GM says Kapanen could make that immediate jump.

  1. milkmemalkin - Jul 20, 2014 at 8:47 AM

    An absolute steal. He’ll be a point per game player in two years or less.

    • mikeyhigs - Jul 20, 2014 at 10:51 AM

      Last season, there were a total of 8 players who played at least 70 games and averaged a point per game. The youngest was 22 years old. You really think he will crack that list at age 20?

      • tsi431 - Jul 20, 2014 at 12:18 PM

        3 Pens did it last year. One of them is now gone (Neal in 59 games).

    • avscup - Jul 20, 2014 at 10:52 AM

      I bet he is going to be something very special but a point per game in under two years? I think you are delusional. How many point per game players are there in the league total? About 12!

  2. chrisk61 - Jul 20, 2014 at 10:51 AM

    an absolute steal…and he hasn’t played a game yet.

    billy guerin as asst gm…the guy is as dumb as a stump.

    pens are gonna have a rude awakening this yr.

    • theageofquarrel - Jul 20, 2014 at 12:02 PM

      Man,you are all shades of stupid

      • broadstreetbeatdown - Jul 20, 2014 at 8:37 PM

        You my friend, are leading the charge of stupidity.

    • bobc74 - Jul 20, 2014 at 10:13 PM

      Billy G has done a great job working with prospects over the past few years in both Wilkes-Barre and Wheeling.

  3. chrisk61 - Jul 20, 2014 at 8:05 PM

    pens will be bounced from the eastern conf leader board this yr. wait and see. reasonable chance of missing the playoffs. as long as crosby and fleury are on the team, there are structural issues. crosby being named nhl’s best by espn was worst thing that could have happened to pens, as it rewards crosby’s lack of leadership, character and toughness. and pens still haven’t recovered from jordan staal leaving.

    • hockey412 - Jul 21, 2014 at 8:18 AM

      Thank you my friend…your ideas gave me a good laugh this morning!

  4. hockey412 - Jul 21, 2014 at 8:20 AM

    The kid definitely looked good at the prospect scrimmage. I realize it’s all relative to who you’re playing, but he looked good. So did Zlobin, Sundqvist, Harrington…and if Payerl is not in the line up this year, something is wrong. He was (literally, I know) a man amongst boys out there.

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