Grading Oliver Kapanen's season: The forward took on more responsibilities as the year progressed

A lot of the growth in Kapanen's game couldn't be found among his season stats.

Grading Oliver Kapanen's season: The forward took on more responsibilities as the year progressed

Expectations were high for Oliver Kapanen as he was going into his sophomore Liiga season as a Montreal Canadiens prospect. Were they set too high, did he live up to them, or was it just a matter of not enough coverage? The answer is actually a "yes" on all accounts.

Kapanen is one of the youngest players out of the 2021 NHL draft, and it is easy to forget that. He has played pro hockey for two-and-a-bit seasons. He was on loan for a handful of games to Mestis in his draft year, and he took a huge step forward this year as he scored 27 points (12G, 15A) in 55 games. the Finnish centre also led Finland's World Juniors squad as a captain and and had three points in five games with the Lion cubs.


Absolutely no one can second guess Kapanen's hockey IQ. It's no joke when you say it's in his genes. The Kapanen family is royalty in the Republic of Finland, or as close to royalty as there is.

He thinks the game well at all speeds, and in all facets of the game. He is a utility tool, or a Finnish Army knife, and it is with that that he builds up the rest of his game. He has the vision and he has playmaking skills to help set up his team for success.

The leadership qualities that he showed during the WJC was something new that stood out this year and it could be something to look out for in the future.


It is interesting that someone with the pedigree that Kapanen has seems to struggle with confidence issues at times. Might it be the name on his back that has his shoulders carrying a bit of extra weight? He seems to squeeze the stick a bit too hard at times, making it difficult to score, and he scores in batches.

His age might be the reason for this, and he needs to add that consistency to his game. With Finland usually playing Wednesday-Friday-Saturday, the games come close and his strength and stamina could use a boost to handle the games and added usage.

Grade: B

I would probably have given Kapanen a C+ before having the podcast with Timo Kunnari, but the discussion we had was something I valued and therefore I raised Kapanen's grade. Liiga has improved the coverage in Sweden this season, hopefully that will mean a better coverage form yours truly.

Starting the season as KalPa's third-line centre, he finished in the playoffs being their leader on the ice, and as a first-line centre. This in itself showcases the development he had through the full season, and shows that next year probably is the make it or break it one. Can he, as Mr. Kunnari expects, take control of that first-line spot, and lead the club's special-teams units? If he can, then the step over to the Atlantic won't be as difficult to take as previously perceived.

You can listen to Timo Kunnari, journalist at Iltalehti, Finland's biggest paper, as he gives his opinion on Kapanen and (repeatedly) tells Patrik that he is wrong on this episode of Habsent Minded.

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