Development camp marked the first time the entire Penguins staff got to watch and spend time with 2014 first-round draft pick Kasperi Kapanen
– and he didn't disappoint.
“He’s even better than I thought he would be,” Penguins assistant general manager Bill Guerin said. “I was very happy with him.”
Kapanen, however, wasn’t totally thrilled with his play these past few days, as this past week marked his first time on the ice this summer. But he feels like he ended the week on a positive note following Saturday’s camp-ending scrimmage.
“It was good we had the game at the end,” Kapanen said. “I felt good, I felt good with the puck. I think I made some good plays and I think I played a good game. So that’s just building some confidence for me and hopefully rookie camp will go better.”
Kapanen was one of the players who stood out the most to Guerin on Saturday during the scrimmage.
“He’s this high-end talent, high-end speed,” Guerins aid. “He’s a very, very mature kid for his age. Obviously having his father (Sami) playing so many years in the NHL and playing with him and bringing him up that way, he’s already a pro, so he’s ahead of the game in that department. You got a little screenshot of what’s to come and he’s not even 18 yet, which is kind of cool.”
In addition to his strengths as a player, one of the things Guerin likes the most about Kapanen is how hungry the 17-year-old to make the NHL roster this September.
“He definitely (has a chance to compete for a spot this year),” Guerin said. “And he made it clear that’s what he wants to do. Those were some of his comments in the paper after the draft, that he was going to try to come in and compete for a spot. That’s the business that we’re in, you come in and you try to take people’s jobs. That’s what pro sports is all about. And if he’s already thinking like that, I love it.”
Kapanen is certainly thinking that way. He knows it won’t be easy to secure a spot with Pittsburgh, and that training camp is going to be tough. But Kapanen said he’s ready for the challenge.
“These camps, I try to take everything out of it,” he said. “I try to have fun, because hopefully I wont come back to this camp again. But if I do, that’s not a problem. (Training camp) is going to be tough. But I’m ready. I think I’m up for the challenge. I know that some people might doubt me, but I’m just going to bring everything to the table and hopefully make the team.”