This Penguins preseason has been a game of injuries and puzzle pieces. With two of the best players in the game missing from the lineup it seems as if one of the most consistent things on the Penguins roster thus far has been this year’s first round draft pick Kasperi Kapanen.
The rookie forward has quite frankly looked absolutely fantastic thus far further proving that a whole bunch of teams messed up by not drafting him. Hey, as Penguins fans we thank you. Your loss is our gain.
General Manager Jim Rutherford has not been quiet about his opinion of the rookie, stating on more than one occasion that he has a real chance at cracking the starting roster on opening night. He has a strong puck possession game that is ideal for Johnston’s style of coaching.
As per a Tribune Review article by Jason Mackey it seems Bill Guerin is also a big fan of the young forward. “He's a very, very mature kid for his age. Obviously having his father play so many years in the NHL, or playing with him and bringing him up that way, he's already a pro.”
This opinion should come as no surprise. Both his preseason and camp plays have shown nothing but a capable, talented forward who is ready to have his chance in the spotlight. He has great hands and fantastic vision. That coupled with his ability to turn nothing into big time plays has earned him nothing but rave reviews by those around the organization. The below clip is a perfect example of what the young player will be bringing to this team.
Get ready Pens fans. This is the type of player the Penguins have needed for some time. He is a breath of fresh air. A high energy forward to elevate everyone around him. Under Bylsma’s system he would have been banished to the bottom six. He had no room for this type of player whereas Johnston craves it. He needs a bit of help on the defensive side of the puck, but that is very fixable and he will thrive under a coach like Johnston who is willing to progress young players.
It is almost as fate brought Kapanen to Pittsburgh and it does not seem like the Penguins intend on wasting their chance.
Buckle up, baby.
The Penguins open up their regular season next Wednesday, October 9th.