Current Team: KalPa, Liiga (Finnish Elite League)
Date of Birth: July 23, 1996
Place of Birth: Kuopio, Finland
Weight: 180 lbs
Even though this draft may be considered a bit light on European skaters, Kasperi Kapanen has NHL bloodlines, and the potential to succeed in the post-2005 NHL that favors speed and hands. He finished the year as the top European skater in NHL Central Scouting's final rankings, edging out William Nylander.
Kapanen's name should be familiar, considering his father Sami's long NHL tenure. Kasperi isn't the most physical specimen, but his hockey sense, his hands, and his quickness are NHL-quality. He scored seven goals and had 14 points in 47 games in the top league in Finland as a 17-year-old, and if he's able to develop some more strength and a little size, he has the hands and feet to be a solid NHL scorer.
Kapanen is a small and slippery with very creative hands and impressive 1-on-1 arsenal. He has a decent shot with good release but needs added velocity. He has quick feet and impressive lateral agility and is a dangerous goal scorer who can make skilled passes and offensive zone reads. - Elite Prospects
Kasperi Kapanen plays a cerebral game with the skills and speed to allow him to make the proper plays in all situations and make the players around him better. While not over whelming from a physical standpoint and with room to continue growing, his hockey sense is on par with the other top players in his age group and he maximizes his talents to get the best out of his game. - Hockey's Future
Playing alongside father and former NHLer Sami Kapanen in KalPa, Kasperi has overcome injury that kept him from competing for Finland at the 2014 World Junior Championship and remains high in the ranks simply because few possess his top-end puck handling ability. His game lacks physicality but his hockey sense, on-ice vision and playmaking skills are unparalleled and in a draft class with few game-breakers, Kapanen will be coveted. When attacking one-on-one, there are few players who are as dangerous as Kapanen. - Brandon Ross, Dobber Prospects
A Good Fit in Columbus?
To be honest, I don't know. Columbus wants to "play faster," and Kapanen could help in that regard for sure. That said, the Jackets have plenty of undersized forwards already, and Kapanen doesn't have the physical nature of a Matt Calvert (though his offensive ceiling is higher that Matty, for example). Kapanen isn't known as a pure scorer--he's more of a playmaker in the team setting--and the Jackets need goal scorers at this point. I like Kapanen's game, but I don't know that he's the perfect fit for Columbus right now. I don't know that Kapanen is in a position to help them anytime in the near future. He will most likely remain in Finland for at least two more years given his age.
But, then again, our GM is Finnish, and if anyone knows all the ins and outs of Kapanen's game, it would be Jarmo.
Kapanen in Action