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First Round Targets: RASMUS KUPARI

One of the European prospects that have seen his stock fall in the past few months, Rasmus Kupari, was once seen as one of this draft’s top centers to be taken in the first-round. But recently, his play has been fading from the minds of some scouts for no real reason.

He had a strong performance in the u18 Ivan Hlinka Tournament, with seven points in just for games for his native country Finland. As well as playing in one of the best European leagues, the Finnish Liiga.

Playing his first season in the top division with Kärpät, Kupari was able to hang with older players but never really getting the ice-time that he deserved. Only averaging 12:05 while he was playing in the Liiga.

Kupari is an extremely skilled puckhandler and skater, deserving of all the hype that surrounds him.

Rankings

Stats

While only 14 points in 39 games with Kärpät isn’t all that exciting, as I said before, he was only playing 12:05 a game on average. Those numbers are extremely impressive when you factor in how little time he was getting out on the ice.

In all-time u18 Liiga totals, Kupari stands around Kaspari Kapanen, Sebastian Aho, and Jesse Puljujarvi – sitting at 22nd in points among all u18 Liiga players all-time.

Eye Test

As you can see in the first few clips, Kupari can handle the puck as well as anyone in this draft. His mix of vision and puckhandling create a dangerous pairing when he can put them together.

Kupari does not shy away from his defensive responsibilities either. He uses his stick very well, to knock pucks loose or to tie up the offensive threat in the neutral zone.

But don’t just trust my word for his capabilities, here is a quote from Peter Harling of Dobber Prospects:

Kupari is a highly skilled, playmaking center. He is undersized, but is a strong skater with a high hockey IQ and hockey sense that makes him a dangerous offensive player and a reliable defensive player. Kupari started his draft year with a solid showing for Finland at the Ivan Hlinka scoring two goals and seven points in four games. He started the season playing at the pro level in Liiga despite being drafted by the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds at the CHL Import Draft, but after struggling somewhat with 12 points in 35 games was subsequently loaned to Hermes in the Mestis. Don’t be discouraged by this apparent set back as an undersized 17-year-old, undersized player it simply means Kupari needs more development time before he is pro ready. Kupari was also included on the Finnish World Junior team as an underage player, but was held pointless despite displaying his high skill set. Kupari has a high ceiling, and drawing comparisons to countryman Sebastian Aho gives you an indication of his upside, but he is a long term investment.

Kupari’s size does not hold him back at all, he is a very capable player that will surely see his stats grow in the Liiga next season.

Fit With The Red Wings

Likely to go in the middle of the first round, Kupari won’t be close to the second batch of Red Wings’ picks. But the draft is an interesting time and crazier things have happened – just last year the drop of Eeli Tolvanen was very unexpected and he was projected to go in the same range of picks that Kupari is this year.

If there is a chance that Kupari will be available in the late-first round, I could see Holland and co. doing everything in their power to get this young talented forward. He provides the much-needed right-handed shot in the forward position for the Wings and will become the most skillful prospect the Red Wings have seen in a while.


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