NHL Draft Profile: Kasperi Kapanen
Kasperi Kapanen is an all-around talent with hockey in his blood.
Kapanen, the son of 13-year NHL veteran Sami Kapanen, possesses the same foot speed that won his father the fastest skater competition during the 2000 and 2002 NHL All-Star competitions.
Along with Kapanen’s father, his grandfather Hannu also played professional hockey. Hannu played forward for five seasons throughout the Finnish Elite League and competed for Team Finland at the Canada Cup and the Olympics in 1976.
The 17-year-old Kasperi has great hockey sense, and can unleash a shot with a release that is up to NHL standards on his worst day. He's been known to score a few highlight-reel goals thanks to superb puck skills that complement his heavy shot extremely well. He shares the puck while also scoring on his own, and he uses his speed to his advantage when defenders try to play him tight or get physical.
Kapanen, who is this year's top-ranked European prospect, stands at 5-foot-11 and 180 lbs., which isn’t very big, but his aggressiveness and smarts are what make him solid in the defensive zone — he isn’t afraid to take the body, although his speed and stick skills are the primary weapons.
For the past two seasons, Kapanen has played for KalPa of the Finnish Elite League alongside his father, who is the majority owner and general manager of the club. Kasperi has totaled 18 points in two seasons for the professional team, while recording 43 points (21 goals and 22 assists) for the Under-20 KalPa team in 2012-13.
Kapanen competed in the 2013 Under-18 World Championships in Sochi, Russia, where he finished second among all players in the competition with five goals, and he also scored the game-winning goal in the bronze medal game against Russia.
Here's NHL Director of European Scouting Goran Stubb on Kapanen:
“He’s a good-skating wing and can also play center. He has a smooth and surprisingly fast style that has surprised many unsuspecting defensemen. His tricky puck skills and quick release have paid off in many games and he has good hand-eye coordination. He’s not overly physical, but does not shy away from rough situations.”