2015-16 Team: Karpat (#21)
Date of birth: 7/22/1996
Place of birth: Oulianen, Finland
Ht: 6’0 Wt: 179
NHL Draft eligibility: 3rd year eligible in 2016
THW’s Draft War Room May Rankings: unranked
- NHL Central Scouting EU Skaters: 59
Overshadowed by Aho and Puljujarvi
Being born in 1996, 19-year-old Antti Kalapudas is over-aged and is in his third-year of eligibility this year. He was passed over the last three years although he has put up great numbers at the junior levels. However, he could not fully convince at higher levels so far, although he had 31 points in 40 games in the second highest Finnish league last season. In Karpat, he was only limited to a bottom-six role this season and suited up in 21 games.
With Karpat, Kalapudas was definitely overshadowed by rising stars, Sebastian Aho and Jesse Puljujarvi. Both players have high-end skills and played in a top-six role, something Kalapudas lacks. All three won the gold medal at the U20 World Junior Championship in Helsinki. At this tournament, Kalapudas showed what he is able to do at higher level. He delivered Finland with valuable secondary scoring and took pressure off their top guys. He also displayed that he can really shoot the puck.
Finland edges Sweden, to play for World Juniors gold: HELSINKI — Antti Kalapudas scored the winning goal Mond… https://t.co/tbMkkcVD7m
— VOFN Finland (@vofnfinland) January 4, 2016
He is a guy that can generate offense and improved his two-way game in the last years to become a more complete player, rather than a pure goal scorer. He backchecks with more effectiveness and is more responsible in his own zone compared to his junior years. If he wants to have success at NHL-level, he needs to become a hard-working bottom-six player as I don’t think that his offensive upside is big enough to be something else.
However, he really needs to work on his skating, balance and strength. He does have the compete-level and goes into board battles, but does get knocked down too many times. Kalapudas is an ambitious player and is trying to compete hard in every shift. His skating is average, he could become more explosive with his first strides too.
NHL Draft Projection:
Given the fact that he is over-aged, and does not possess high-end offensive skills, he will have to wait until the later rounds until someone might call his name. I would say he still has a chance to get drafted in the sixth or seventh round, but he is no lock and could remain un-drafted as well.
Kalapudas is a light but fairly talented offensive player with the stick handling and passing ability to make the players around him better. He does not play an overly physical game but has been highly productive in putting up points at the junior level in Finland. Kalapudas has put up impressive offensive numbers playing at the junior level but his long-term potential is still a bit of a mystery.
A developing two-way centre with an offensive mindset and an arsenal of weapons and ways he can hurt you. Limited in size and physicality, he has good vision and can beat you with soft pass, or snap shot or by stickhandling through you. Needs to get stronger more aware in the defensive zone and engage opponents physically.
-Bill Placzek, draftsite.com
Antti Kalapudas is a highly skilled offensive centerman whose been playing in Finland. He has top end offensive potential but it needs a lot of refining and developing over the next few years. He is a very smart player who has the ability to make the players around him better. He’d be a project but one that could bring a huge reward at the end of the day. His main weakness is that he’s very lean and if he wants to progress to the next level he will have to become bigger and stronger. His defensive game is also lacking. His skating could do with a bit of work as well but it is good enough for the moment.
-Huw Wales, defendingbigd.com
As I mentioned before, if Kalapudas ever makes it to the NHL it is in a bottom-six role. He has the compete-level and offensive upside to become a depth player in a professional league but will need to gain strength and skating balance if that pro league shall be the NHL.
NHL comparison: Craig Smith
Risk: 4/5 Reward: 3/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential:
Offensive = 4/10 Defensive = 4/10
2012/2013: EYOF Gold Medal
2015/2016: U20 WJC Gold Medal
Shots From the Slot (Interesting Notes):
Kalapudas won the gold medal with Finland in Helsinki and delivered the Finns with valuable secondary scoring. He scored two big goals against Canada and Finland and had three goals, one assist and four points in seven games for the Finns. He could take over a bigger role in Karpat next season as Puljujarvi and Aho are believed to play in North America next season.
THW’s The Next Ones prospect profile template design architect: Chris Ralph
Independent Scout covering European Hockey and Prospects for TheHockeyWriters. Located in Switzerland and blogging on www.scouting-factory.blogspot.com. Opinions on blog are my own