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Draft Profile: Kasperi Kapanen

Friday, 06.20.2014 / 9:45 AM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Michael Smith
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Draft Profile: Kasperi Kapanen
A third-generation hockey player, Kasperi Kapanen is the No. 1 ranked European skater.
Each weekday leading up to the 2014 NHL Draft on June 27-28, CarolinaHurricanes.com will profile one player we believe might be available for Carolina’s seventh pick. Previous Profiles: Haydn Fleury | Aaron Ekblad | Leon Draisaitl | Michael Dal Colle | Sam Bennett | Related Links: 2014 NHL Draft Preview | Hurricanes Draft History




Michael Smith
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Years ago, a couple of young kids were among the participants in a “Mice on Ice” program in Cary. They were Josh Wesley, son of Glen Wesley and now a draft-eligible defensive prospect, and Kasperi Kapanen, son of Sami Kapanen.

Kapanen is now the NHL’s Central Scouting Service’s No. 1 ranked European skater and figures to be a top-10 pick come draft day.

“He’s considered to be one of the top prospects in the Draft,” said Tony MacDonald, the Canes director of amateur scouting. “He’s going to fall into the category of a top-10 pick where he’ll fit somewhere.”

As evidenced by his surname, Kapanen, 17, has strong hockey bloodlines. His grandfather, Hannu Kapanen, skated for five seasons with Jokerit and HIFK of SM-liiga, Finland’s top professional hockey league, in the late 70s. He also represented Finland in the 1976 Canada Cup and the 1976 Winter Olympics. He would go on to coach in SM-liiga in the mid-90s.

KASPERI KAPANEN
Kasperi Kapanen
RIGHT WING
HOMETOWN: KUOPIO, FINLAND
HEIGHT: 6'0"
WEIGHT: 180
BIRTHDAY: JULY 23, 1996 (AGE 17)

Kasperi’s father, Sami, was drafted by the Hartford Whalers in the fourth round (87th overall) in 1995. He would go on to log 348 points (145g, 203a) in 520 games over eight seasons with the franchise. Sami’s NHL career would ultimately span 831 games over 12 seasons. He left the NHL after the 2007-08 season and has skated with Kalpa Kuopio of SM-liiga in five of the last six seasons.

For the last two seasons, Sami and Kasperi have had the unique bond of being not only father and son but also teammates.

Just 16 years old at the time, Kasperi played the majority of the 2012-13 season with Kalpa’s U-20 team, posting 29 points (14g, 15a) in 36 games. He scored four goals in 13 games with the big club in addition to logging an assist in four playoff matches. In 2013-14, Kasperi recorded 14 points (7g, 7a) in 47 games with a Kalpa squad that won just 15 of 60 games.

“Kasperi plays a pro game now,” MacDonald said. “He played with the men in Finland, and they didn’t have the greatest year so it was a little difficult for a young, 17-year-old player. But he handled it pretty well.”

The 2013-14 campaign marked Sami’s swan song. Now, Kasperi, the third-generation hockey-playing Kapanan, will begin a new chapter of his family’s legacy.

Sami was known for being slight and swift-footed, and from 1997-2002, he was a five-time 20-goal scorer. Even as a teenager, Kasperi is already at least four inches taller and 10 pounds heftier, and MacDonald compliments his skating and shot.

“Sami was a pretty dynamic player for the Hurricanes,” MacDonald said. “Kasperi plays a more direct, controlled game than his dad did, and he’s a bigger player.”

Kasperi has also drawn attention in international play. In the U-17 World Hockey Challenge, Kapanen paced the Finnish national team with three goals and nine points in five tournament games. The same year in the IIHF World U-18 Championship, he ranked second among all skaters with five goals – including the bronze-medal-winning goal against Russia – in seven games.

As the top-ranked European skater and a product of a noteworthy hockey lineage, Kapanen figures to hear his name called early in the first round of the 2014 NHL Draft.



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AWAY
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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 x - MTL 76 47 21 8 200 169 102
2 x - NYR 75 47 21 7 228 177 101
3 TBL 76 46 23 7 244 198 99
4 NYI 77 45 27 5 235 215 95
5 PIT 75 41 23 11 207 188 93
6 DET 75 40 23 12 220 206 92
7 WSH 76 41 25 10 223 188 92
8 BOS 76 38 25 13 201 196 89
9 OTT 75 37 26 12 218 203 86
10 FLA 76 35 26 15 190 207 85
11 PHI 76 30 29 17 198 219 77
12 CBJ 75 36 35 4 207 232 76
13 NJD 75 31 32 12 167 192 74
14 CAR 75 28 36 11 174 204 67
15 TOR 76 28 42 6 198 244 62
16 BUF 75 20 47 8 144 254 48

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
E. Staal 70 21 28 -12 49
J. Faulk 75 15 32 -17 47
E. Lindholm 74 16 21 -19 37
J. Skinner 70 18 13 -21 31
V. Rask 73 11 20 -12 31
R. Nash 68 8 17 -10 25
N. Gerbe 71 8 17 -13 25
J. McClement 75 7 13 -3 20
A. Nestrasil 47 7 13 4 20
J. Staal 39 4 16 -7 20
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 20 21 5 .911 2.40
A. Khudobin 8 15 6 .904 2.60