Luca Caputi climbed pretty high last season.
And, he believes he’s nowhere near the ceiling.
The Penguins’ 2007 fourth-round draft choice enjoyed a highly successful 2007-08 season. He established franchise scoring records in junior hockey, wound up playing in the Calder Cup Finals with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and earned himself a three-year entry level contract.
Not bad for a player taken 111th overall.
“From getting drafted last June to playing junior hockey in Niagara and then getting called up and signed right after the season, it was just an unbelievable season for me,” he said. “As a player, I just learned so much. It’s really going to be a big summer for me and I have to take everything I learned and, hopefully, implement it into camp when I come back.”
Caputi is in Pittsburgh for the Penguins’ prospects conditioning camp. It was the camp last year, as well as rookie training camp, that helped propel him into the successful campaign.
“Even when I came here, it was such a learning experience, just being on the ice with pros and acting like a pro and learning the way they dress or how they handle themselves in situations,” he said. “I honestly took that back with me and I felt I got better because of it.”
|Luca Caputi established Niagara franchise records for goals and points last season. |
Last season, Caputi flourished with Niagara in the Ontario Hockey League. He finished fourth in the OHL with 111 points (51+60) in 66 regular-season games. He established franchise records with the 51 goals and 111 points. The 6-foot-2, 185-pound left winger had 17 points (8+9) in 10 playoff games for the IceDogs.
“If you told me that I was going to score 50 goals at the beginning of the year, I probably would have laughed at you,” he said. “I got off to a good start and I just kept staying with it, even through the lows, I just kept being confident and making plays.”
The confidence Caputi gained is very important for his development on and off the ice.
“That plays a huge role for any young player coming into a different situation or into a different level of hockey. You have to trust yourself and trust your game. If you don’t do that, you’re not going to be successful,” he said. “The coaches in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton always told me that I was there for a reason and I just needed to play there like I did in juniors because that is the reason why I was in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. That’s what I tried to do, for the most part, during the playoffs.”
Caputi joined Wilkes-Barre/Scranton upon completion of Niagara’s season. He joined the Baby Penguins as they began the playoffs. He appeared in 19 Calder Cup playoff games and had two goals and four points as the team advanced to the championship series.
Even though Caputi and the rest of the team fell short of the ultimate goal, the experience gained was invaluable to Caputi and the other young players on the team.
“I learned so much while I was in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Really, time will only tell how much I learned and how much better I am because of it,” he said. “To speak about it, I still can’t even put it into words the ride we went on. It was the best group of guys I have ever been a part of. We just found ways to win. Even though we came up short, all I can really say is, ‘Wow.’”
Even though he hasn’t much time to rest, Caputi is already looking forward to next season.
“When I come back, I am just going to try and prove myself. It’s a learning experience every day for a young guy like me and you learn something new every day,” he said. “When I come back, I still feel like I have a lot to prove and I am going to try to do that.”