2020-21 Team: KalPa U20
Date of Birth: Jul. 29, 2003
Place of Birth: Sundsvall, SWE
Ht: 6-foot-1 Wt: 179 pounds
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2021 first-year eligible
- NHL Central Scouting: 22nd (amongst EU skaters)
- Future Considerations: 49th
- Peter Baracchini’s March Rankings: 43rd
- Andrew Forbes’ May Rankings: 56th
- Matthew Zator’s April Rankings: 81st
- SMAHT Scouting: 98th
- Bob Mckenzie’s Mid- Season Rankings: 41st
- DobberProspects Mid- Season Rankings: 75th
If Oliver Kapanen’s name sounds familiar, then it should. His uncle is former NHLer Sami Kapanen and his cousin, Kasperi, currently plays for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Related: 2021 NHL Draft Guide
He was a point per game with KalPa’s U20 team and with JoKP when he was loaned to the Mestis League. The U18 World Hockey Championships was a perfect opportunity for him to continue to improve his draft stock, representing Finland. It wasn’t the start he wanted as he went head first into the boards after an awkward fall in their first game against Russia. He did come back to play in the tournament, but was held pointless in four games.
Despite not having the tournament he would’ve liked, Kapanen is still a prospect to keep a close eye on in this year’s draft. His game revolves around his smarts to be an effective 200- foot player. He’s quick with his decision- making and his vision allows him to read each play exceptionally well and make the right play.
Kapanen has the ability to break up plays and quickly transition to offense as a result of his awareness on the defensive side of the puck. He’s also strong on the back check, providing great coverage on his assignments. He’s able to close in on the puck carrier to engage in a battle and tough to get around in the defensive end. He’s always one step ahead of his competition and he always comes out on top.
While his awareness and hockey sense stand out, Kapanen is also regarded as an offensive threat. He possesses a very strong knack for scoring goals and generating shots. He has a quick and powerful release in his shot that allows him to get the puck off swiftly and accurately. He has a keen eye to get to the open areas on the ice and get a great opportunity for a prime scoring chance. He also has no problem in taking the puck himself as he has great control to handle it in high traffic areas and take it to the front of the net.
Compared to his cousin, Oliver lacks the speed and agility that Kasperi has, which is a big part of his game. He does have a good stride and edges that allows him to close gaps when chasing the puck and evading opponents. Skating mechanics can always be adjusted. If Kapanen works on this, he has the potential of being an effective two-way centreman.
Other THW Draft Profiles
Oliver Kapanen- NHL Draft Projection
Kapanen is a name that flew under the radar for me. While his offensive production may not be that of a first-round talent, he definitely has the smarts to be a very great pick as a second or even as an early third- round pick. I’d be surprised to see him fall further down knowing his upside.
“You will be hard-pressed to find many forwards in this draft who are better 200-foot players than he is. His focus, attention to detail and work ethic are superb in all three zones. He just always seems to be involved in the play in a positive way for his team. He’s a very sticky player without the puck, both on the forecheck and in the defensive zone, leading to steals, turnovers and pressuring opponents into lower-percentage situations.”– Derek Neumeier, FC Hockey
“One of the biggest draft-eligible risers in Finland this season, Kapanen ran at over a point-per-game player in his debut season at the U20 level, and also added five points in five games during a brief loan in Mestis. Kapanen’s game is all about off-puck instincts and good scoring touch in tight.” – Lassi Alanen, Elite Prospects
“A talented goal-scorer, he has a quick and precise wrist shot that can catch goalies off guard, and his one-timer is powerful and whippy. He is smooth with the puck and can protect it well. The skill and quality in his shooting and puck handling is evident. Moreover, his situational awareness is very good. He reads the game well, both with and without the puck, and he can anticipate from time to time. His decision making is sound in all three zones.” – Marco Bombino, Finnish Junior Hockey
– Strong wrist shot
– Situational and Puck Awareness
– 200-foot game
– Puck Handling
Under Construction (Improvements to Make)
Kapanen’s point totals at the U18 and U20 level have been strong, but that kind of production may not translate to the NHL level. Despite that, he’s going to be an effective two-way centre either on a second or third line. In addition, he could see a lot of minutes on the power play and penalty kill.
Risk- Reward Analysis
Risk- 2/5, Reward 3.5/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offense- 7/10, Defense 8/10
Kapanen was named to the U18 SM- sarja First All-Star Team for the 2019-20 season.
Oliver Kapanen’s Statistics
Peter is in his third year with The Hockey Writers, covering the Toronto Maple Leafs and heading the Draft and Prospects section. He has previously interned at The Hockey News and worked on Toronto Marlies broadcasts for Rogers TV. He currently is the co-host of the podcast Sticks in the 6ix and a frequent guest on Maple Leafs Lounge. Aside from hockey, he also enjoys drumming, animation and impressions/ voices.