Kasperi Kapanen has made a happy start to the World Cup tournament.
The Ice Hockey World Cup tournament gathers many fascinating puck owners in the stands year after year. Several representatives of NHL clubs came to Tampere’s Nokia Arena on Tuesday.
One of them was Doug Armstrong, the longtime GM of the St. Louis Blues, who had come from Riga, Latvia, on an observation trip to Tampere. Armstrong will serve as Canada’s GM at this spring’s Games.
Canada would play their opening group match in Latvia, but Armstrong wanted to be at the venue in time to see the progress of the other opening group.
In the first group played in Tampere, one player from the NHL club represented by Armstrong is cooling off on the ice: Legionnaire’s speed machine Kasperi Kapanen.
The Blues’ season ended with the regular season, but the 58-year-old Armstrong is pleased that the Finnish forward has decided to continue his season at the World Cup.
– We’ve got a very good player in our ranks. He is heading towards the prime years of his career, so it will be interesting to watch his development. “I think playing in the World Cup before an important summer is a good move for Casper,” Armstrong told Sanomat in the hallway of the Nokia Arena.
Kapanen had a difficult season in the NHL.
The winger from Kuopio began his season with the Pittsburgh Penguins, where he played a minor role. Kapenen, who arrived in the Steel City from Toronto with high expectations, eventually fell into a difficult role in Pittsburgh’s hierarchy.
Kapenen went 7+13 in 43 games in a Pittsburgh shirt this season. After a poor performance, Pittsburgh placed Kappenen on the transfer list in February, from which St. Louis selected him.
– It was necessary to get away from Pittsburgh. It took a certain burden off his shoulders. For some reason, it didn’t work in Pittsburgh. Kasperi fits well with the current situation, where we are creating a new frame of mind, argued Armstrong.
The move was a new beginning for Kapanen. In the ranks of the Blues, Kapenen played 23 games, scoring eight goals and 14 points. Kapanen’s playing time increased to close to 17 minutes per match.
He played very well for us when we bought him from Pittsburgh. He got to play more in our ranks. He is also allowed to make mistakes, but still has more of his ice time.
Kapanen is at a turning point in his NHL career. The first first-round pick previously pitched in Toronto and Pittsburgh.
The Finnish striker has a lot to prove in St. Louis. Blues is currently in the process of being re-filed. Armstrong traded his top players Vladimir Tarasenko and Ryan O’Reilly to other countries at the transfer deadline.
Armstrong sees Kapse as having the potential to become a dependable player in the Blues’ new core.
– When a player arrives in the NHL, the first thing you have to do is establish your position. He is a player of that age who needs to play consistently. The difference between a top game and a bad game should be as small as possible, Armstrong stresses.
– He’s starting to understand it. He is a player who can play multiple roles. He is a great skater and has the right kind of sharpness in his game.
Kapanen signed a two-year, $6.4 million contract last summer. After the next season, Kapanen’s current contract expired.
– We expect a lot from him. He needs to stand out so he can get the next big deal. Next year is crucial, says Armstrong, not only for the contract, but also for his career prospects.
– He’s a proud professional who wants to show that he’s a top class NHL player.