2003 born center Oliver Kapanen took major steps forward in 2019-20. He already played well in the U16 league, but he really brought his game to another level with KalPa U18 this past season. The 6’0″, 161 pound center had a lot of responsibility as he played regularly on the power play, penalty kill and against opposing teams’ top players at even strength.
Even though KalPa’s roster featured a lot of offensive firepower, I thought Kapanen was their most impactful forward. He even earned a call up to the U17 national team and recorded three goals and one assist in seven games.
Kapanen is a skilled and shifty player who packs offensive punch. A fluid skater with quick acceleration, he constantly keeps his feet in motion. He moves well and plays a fast-paced game.
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.
Oliver’s rapid development makes him an interesting prospect to watch. He has the skating, puck skills and smarts to play at the next level and the foundation to develop into a strong 200-foot player. His best hockey is yet to come.