Next up on our list for this year’s Season In Review pieces is none other than Kasperi Kapanen.
In other words: That’s Kappy!
Let’s take a look at Kasperi Kapanen’s biggest single-season chunk of NHL time, in which he appeared to finally transition off of the Toronto Marlies to become a full-time NHLer:
|GP||GOALS||ASSISTS||POINTS||CORSI % (5V5)||XGF% (5V5)|
Kasperi Kapanen clocks in at 9th on the Leafs in Expected Goals for Percentage (xGF%), despite playing largely with a rotating cast of fourth-liners of varying skill. In other words, the Leafs were expected to score 53.37% of the total goals while Kapanen was on the ice.
While 6 goals and 2 assists isn’t exactly something to write home about, Kapanen enjoyed a decent amount of success in the limited role that he saw this season. Night after night, it was clear that Kapanen’s speed was a force to be reckoned with, especially on the Leafs’ fourth line while matched against other teams’ bottom six forwards.
Kapanen also proved a valuable asset to the Leafs’ Penalty Kill, and enjoyed time on the second Power Play unit as well alongside Auston Matthews and William Nylander by season’s end.
It’s hard to assign a fair grade to Kapanen relative to the players he was often paired with. The true test of his potential will likely come after his first season making the big club out of camp, and playing against tougher competition in a more intensive role. More on that later.
Kasperi Kapanen once sniped on one of my housemates in a game of roller hockey when they were 13, and made him cry. True story.
An actually important fun fact, however, is that Kapanen did not record his first NHL assist until February 5, 2018, 29 games into his NHL career. He assisted on Auston Matthews’ 2nd of the game as the Leafs cruised to a 7-4 victory.
I was very excited to see that Kasperi Kapanen made the cut for these. I can’t wait to see what he can do with more talented linemates in the future. pic.twitter.com/gofBMO6m4D
— Ziggy (@Ziggy_14) April 21, 2018
As mentioned, Kapanen thrived in a limited role this season, as has a ton of upward potential. His scoring rate and shot generation is truly something to be reckoned with, for a depth forward. Would love to see those primary assists go up, but that will obviously come with playing alongside others who can finish.
Does it get any prettier?
I was tempted to include Kappy’s shorty versus the Bruins in Game 7, but I’m not sure we’re ready to remember that game just yet. Besides, this one was just disgusting, and proof that Kapanen doesn’t just have feet, he’s also got a killer set of hands.
A Leafs team without JVR and Leo Komarov will likely force the Leafs’ hand to give Kasperi Kapanen a bigger role straight out of camp next season. And boy, has he earned it.
Kapanen will likely see significant time on the second and third lines next season. I would be thrilled to see Kappy get a look alongside Nazem Kadri, or maybe even alongside Auston and Willy on the top line. The skill is there and the speed is there; Kapanen could seriously thrive and enjoy a truly breakout campaign from October onward.
On the Power Play, it’s yet to be proven if Kapanen has the ability to eventually be an apt replacement for the netfront void left behind by JVR, but it’s not impossible that he could ease into that role and find some success. Either way, it’ll be exciting to watch, looking exactly like this: