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Canadiens Fans Shouldn’t Expect To See Oliver Kapanen In NHL Next Season – Hockey Writers – Montreal Canadiens

The Montreal Canadiens have finally signed Finnish center Oliver Kapanen. They drafted him 64th overall in the 2021 draft and since then, he’s improved tremendously. What does this signing mean for next season?

Kapanen’s Development Over The Last 3 Seasons

In the three seasons since being drafted, Kapanen has continued to play in Finland’s SM liiga with KalPa Kuopio or their minor affiliates. In the 2023-24 campaign, the 20-year-old played 51 games and collected 34 points in the competition, making him fourth in scoring on the list. Undrafted 21-year-old Juuso Maenpaa led the way with 49 points in 59 games followed by two veterans Matya Kantner (25 and undrafted) and Jaakko Rissanen (33 and undrafted).

Kapanen also enjoyed international experience playing at the Under-20 World Junior Championship, scoring five points in 12 games and being named Finland’s captain for the 2022-23 tournament. This past season, in the 2024 World Cup, the Canadiens prospect scored six goals in just eight games, making fans excited to see him wearing the Sainte-Flanelle one day. It was during those world championships that Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes met with Kapanen’s agent and decided they would release the contract after the tournament.

The Entry Level Deal and Its Implications

The three-year deal signed with the Canadiens covers the 2024-25 to 2026-27 seasons wherever he plays as the 20-year-old’s contract cannot be extended to next season. In addition, if he fails to make the Canadiens roster, he will return to Europe and make his first appearance for Timra IK, a Swedish club that runs in the Swedish Hockey League, as he signed a contract with them before the start of the last World Cup. Bravery.

It is worth mentioning that the general manager of Timra IK is Kapanen’s father, Kimmo. I hope this will not be like the Alexander Galchenyuk saga where the young player’s father is very involved. If you recall, it was reported that Galchenyuk would meet his father outside the Canadiens locker room after the game to discuss his performance and get some advice that sometimes said “don’t listen to your coach, listen to me”. Even worse, the American looked at his cell phone between sessions to see his father’s advice.

Oliver Kapanen, Team Finland (Photo by Andy Devlin/Getty Images)

Either way, Kapanen will report to Canadiens camp on September 18 and be joined by the other starters. As mentioned before, if he does not make the team this season, he will return to Europe but starting with the 2025-26 season, the Canadiens will be able to send him to the Laval Rocket in the American Hockey League if possible. judge it accordingly.

What Should We Expect in Kapanen?

There is still a lot of work left to polish Kapanen’s game, but in his final season with KalPa Kuopio, he finally settled into the first line. Tyler Kuehl of the Daily Faceoff described the facility as:

There’s a lot to love about the Finnish center game. He has outstanding experience in the attacking area, with the ability to finish from close range and from distance. Although Kapanen has the ability to put it in the net, he stands out by creating chances and finding his teammates in dangerous scoring positions.

Since being drafted by Montreal, the 20-year-old has progressed to Liiga, Finland’s top league, playing for KalPa, the same team his father Kimmo played with for a few seasons. This past season, Kapanen had a team-high 14 goals and 20 assists for 34 points in 51 games, with another 14 points in the playoffs. He helped KalPa reach the semi-finals, where they were eliminated by Tappara, the eventual league champions.

Admittedly, playing on the first line in Finland’s top league is exciting, but, the level of play is low and slow there so we can expect Kapanen to need some time to get used to the lack of space and the different pace.

Related: 2021 Entry Draft Has Strong Family Ties

I don’t think there’s a chance he’ll make the Canadiens next season, but he’ll be an interesting story to follow for sureā€¦ even more so if his skills translate well to the NHL.

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