Eye on the Draft: Kasperi Kapanen

Posted by Chip Alexander on June 26, 2014 

The Canes have the No. 7 selection in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, which begins Friday. Leading up to the draft, CanesNow is taking a look at potential picks.

Today: Kasperi Kapanen.

If the Canes were to draft Kasperi Kapanen, it wouldn't be strictly because of his hockey pedigree and the fact his father, Sami, once wore a Carolina sweater. No legacy pick.

Kapanen was the top-rated European skater in Central Scouting's final rankings this year, just as he was in the mid-term rankings. He can play right wing or center and competed last season with KalPa of the Finnish Elite League.

"He's a pretty good player who has played against men," said Tony MacDonald, the Canes' director of amateur scouting. "He didn't play on a real strong team, so it was a difficult season in terms of gaining a lot of confidence but he played pretty well. He plays a pro style game."

Sami Kapanen was drafted by the Hartford Whalers in 1995 and made the move to North Carolina, playing parts of six seasons with the Hurricanes before going to the Philadelphia Flyers. One of the NHL's swiftest players, he competed in more than 900 career regular-season and playoff games and helped the Canes reach the 2002 Stanley Cup final.

Like father, like son? Not quite, MacDonald said.

"He's bigger than Sami," MacDonald said of Kasperi, who's three inches taller at 5-11 and weighs 180 pounds. "He's pretty strong, a good skater with a good shot.

"They're really not the same kind of player. Sami was a dynamic, speedy player. Kasperi is a stronger skater and probably a more complete player. He has a little power to his game. He finishes checks, forechecks and bangs people."

Kasperi and Sami played together the past two seasons for KalPa, a team Sami owns, and at times were on the same line. Kasperi, 17, finished with seven goals and seven assists in 47 games as KalPa was last in the SM-Liiga.

A standout for Finland in the 2013 Under-18 World Championship in Sochi, Kasperi missed the 2014 World Junior Championship -- and Finland winning the gold -- because of a shoulder injury. "That was a big disappointment for him," MacDonald said.

Kasperi did take part in the 2014 World Under-18 Championship in Finland but had a disappointing performance, with two points in five games. Again, disappointing.

Another Kapanen for the Canes? General manager Ron Francis was one of Sami's teammates with the Canes, and Francis was in Finland for the U-18 tournament. Could make for an interesting first round.

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