Kuopio, Finland native Kasperi Kapanen, who is currently playing for KalPa of the SM-liiga, was ranked sixth overall among 2014 NHL Draft prospects in the October version of the International Scouting Service's poll.
Kapanen, 17, has gotten off to a bit of a slow start with KalPa, posting just one goal and one assist in seven games thus far in 2013-14. However, since he is playing in a professional league while his North American counterparts remain in juniors, those underwhelming statistics are easy to overlook.
Scouts undoubtedly care more about Kapanen's strong showing in international play over the last few seasons. In the 2012-13 U17 World Juniors, he racked up nine points (3G, 6A) in just five games. Additionally, in the U18 Worlds, he finished with eight points (5G, 3A) in seven contests en route to a bronze medal.
Kapanen definitely has NHL-caliber genes. His father, Sami, played in the NHL for 12 years, skating with the Whalers, Hurricanes and Flyers.
The father/son duo actually played together for KalPa earlier this year, a maneuver that was doable thanks to the fact that Sami is a part-owner of the team.
"[Kapanen is] a highly skilled forward that count be a big part of Finland's future. He was a standout at the Youth Olympic Games, where Finland surprised everyone with gold ... There is a lot of creativity in this youngster and he has a knack for scoring."
Kapanen will almost definitely be a first round pick in the 2014 NHL Draft, but his placement will be determined based on 1) whether or not he starts producing more in the SM-liiga; 2) how well he fares in upcoming international play; and 3) how he looks at the scouting combine.
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