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Top-ranked Kapanen puts tough season behind him

by Adam Kimelman

TORONTO -- Kasperi Kapanen is happy to be the top player in NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of European prospects for the 2014 NHL Draft.

That was about the only thing that went well for the Finnish forward this season.

Kapanen had seven goals and 14 points in 47 games with KalPa in Liiga, Finland's top professional league. KalPa won 15 of its 60 games, finished last in the league and scored 101 goals.

Kapanen missed a month of action with an injury to the AC joint in his right shoulder. It caused him to miss Finland gold medal at the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship. At the IIHF World Under-18 Championship in April, he had one goal and one assist in five games. Host Finland finished sixth, their tournament ending with a 10-0 loss to Sweden in the quarterfinals.

"It was such a rough season for us," Kapanen told "I'm just really looking forward to next season and be really good there. Just forgetting about last season."

He's at the NHL Scouting Combine, where he's met with 26 teams. All have asked him about the hits and many misses from his season.

"Pretty much the same questions from everyone," he said. "I enjoyed it. It was a good experience."

He has one more good experience to look forward to, and that's the draft, which will be held at a place he's very familiar with: Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.

Kapanen was born in Kuopio, Finland, but was 6 years old when his father, Sami Kapanen, was traded from the Carolina Hurricanes to the Philadelphia Flyers. Kasperi spent the next six years of his life living in southern New Jersey and has many friends in the area.

He'll be returning to that region after the Combine and spend his summer living with his father and starting his workout program before the draft.

"I have my best memories from there," Kapanen said of the Philadelphia region. "I lived in the States for 12 years; I've only lived six in Finland. I consider it home. I'm just going to try to see my friends a lot. My family is going to come over for the draft, which is going to be remarkable. Just a great experience. I'm trying to soak everything in. I was pretty lucky that [the draft] is in Philly now. Some things are meant to be and that's one of them."


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