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Oliver Kapanen in Montreal this fall: his coach says he’s ready
Credit: Photo by Andy Devlin/ Getty Images
At the next camp, the Habs will have a lot of center players fighting for a spot.

Nick Suzuki, Kirby Dach, Alex Newhook, Jake Evans and Christian Dvorak, barring a change of plan (injury, transaction, etc.), are sure to make Martin St-Louis’ club.

To this, we’ll have to add the prospects who will grow (Owen Beck’s name, among many others, comes to mind) or the off-season additions. Sean Monahan, maybe… or maybe not?

But there’s one name that shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand: Oliver Kapanen. The Canadiens’ prospect, drafted in the second round in 2021 by Marc Bergevin, is developing well.

And according to his coach in Finland (Petri Karjalainen), the Habs won the jackpot by drafting Kapanen, a prospect who could cause a surprise by making his mark with the Habs as early as the fall of 2024.

That’s what Nicolas Cloutier (TVA Sports) reports, after digging into the subject.

In KalPa in 2023-2024, Kapanen had 34 points in 51 games, while adding 14 points in 13 playoff games. He started the season badly, but finished strongly.

The coach isn’t afraid to say that Kapanen was his best player at the end of the season and that he has what it takes to break into the NHL.

And the main interested party? He’s very open to signing with the Canadiens, a club that knows him since Rob Ramage often follows up with him. He feels attached to the Habs.

I’d love to play with the Habs one day. I don’t see why I’d sign with any other team. It’s the team that drafted me. – Oliver Kapanen

What you need to know is that Petri Karjalainen not only thinks his colt could break into the Habs line-up right now, he sees him as a second or third center one day.

Of course, for that to happen, Kapanen will have to sign his entry-level contract with the Habs . From what we understand, this should be a formality.

Note that Kapanen, if he doesn’t make the club in Montreal, would have to go play in Sweden, for his father’s club. He wouldn’t be able to play the entire next season for the Laval Rocket, for example.

Kapanen, who has been compared to former Canadian Sebastian Aho, will probably never become a star. It’s also possible that he won’t be a regular in the NHL, if everything goes wrong.

But that’s something to keep in mind. And if the bank of attacking prospects isn’t bursting at the seams, he must realize that it’s up to him to work hard to make a place for himself.

Will it happen? We’ll see. After all, doubts remain… not least because Kapanen isn’t the best-known prospect in the club’s prospect bank.

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