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Draft Profile: Kasperi Kapanen

by Michael Smith / Carolina Hurricanes
Each weekday leading up to the 2014 NHL Draft on June 27-28, 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
HEIGHT: 6'0"
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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