We continue our 2014 NHL Draft coverage today with another prospect profile; over the next month Defending Big D will be dedicated to covering every aspect of the draft and the Dallas Stars needs and goals heading into the summer.
Today's profile looks at RW Kasperi Kapanen from KalPa of the Finnish SM-Liiga.
Kasperi Kapanen, Right Wing, 5'11", 170lbs, Shoots Right
Kasperi Kapanen is another highly talented offensive winger that this draft appears to have a few of. He is seen by scouts as being a complete package offensively. He's at the top end of the spectrum in terms of puck skills, skating and hockey sense. Kapanen is extremely fast and can change speed and direction suddenly.
He can shoot and make the pass and is seen as being a good goal scorer and playmaker. His speed and mobility are extremely well suited to his style of game in the offensive zone, finding the open space to use his impressive one timer.
While Kapanen does have some two-way skill some scouts have him lower because they believe there is no real consistency to it. He doesn't mind being physical on the forecheck and his own zone but he doesn't like being hit. His lack of size means he is often outmuscled along the boards by players who aren't that much bigger than himself.
Scouts think its clear that Kapanen prefers creating offensive chances rather than taking more, and more consistent, responsibility in his own zone. It should be stressed that this isn't hugely surprising for young offensively talented forwards to neglect the defensive side of their game but it is something that needs to be resolved. Generally he needs to become bigger and stronger if he wants to reach and be effective at the NHL level.
Then again playing in the SM-Liiga is not a small accomplishment for a 17-year-old forward and his low points totals should take that into account as well. As a small young forward playing on a bad team in an adult league he has done very well. Well enough that he was ranked higher than William Nylander on the NHL Central Scouting Final European rankings.
As a note one of his KalPa team mates is Henri Kiviaho, a Dallas Stars goaltender prospect, so it's likely that in between checking up on Kiviaho they will have kept an eye on this interesting young Finnish forward.
Scouting reports from around the web:
Kasperi Kapanen is an outstanding skater, with great speed, and acceleration. He also has very good agility and outstanding edgework. He can cut quickly past a defender and get to the net if they don't respect his speed off the rush. He has the ability to fool defenders with his changes of pace. His balance needs some work, as he could stand to bulk up so that he is stronger on the puck and has more of an ability to fight through checks and not get knocked off the puck by the bigger, stronger defenders he will face going forward.
Kasperi Kapanen comes from a long line of hockey players, most notably his father Sami. He's one of the most talented kids in the draft this year and has been playing the majority of his young career against much older and smarter competition.
Kapanen is a small and slippery with very creative hands and impressive 1-on-1 arsenal. He has a decent shot with good release but needs added velocity. He has quick feet and impressive lateral agility and is a dangerous goal scorer who can make skilled passes and offensive zone reads.