Kasperi Kapanen is a star for the Toronto Marlies and a top Maple Leafs prospect. He has 34 points in 34 games played this season, the most recent of which was on Thursday, when he returned from a lengthy absence due to a “lower body injury”. The precise injury was not disclosed, though he also has noticeable black eye -- almost two months later — which may or may not be related.
Kapanen is still only 20 years old, and behind only Brendan Leipsic in points per game for the Marlies. On January 13th he was injured in a collision with Jake Dotchin of the Syracuse Crunch, crashing awkwardly in to the boards behind the net.
Marlies confirm Kasperi Kapanen has lower body injury after he came out of Leaf dressing room on crutches. Marlies in midst of 5 days off.— Lance Hornby (@sunhornby) January 18, 2017
Kapanen finally returned from that injury on Thursday, in a Marlies school day game vs. the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. He was integral to the play in that game that led to Andrew Nielsen scoring a goal to tie the game with only seconds left in the third period. His control of the puck in the face of a strong defence by the Sound Tigers was amazing.
Turns out missing two months of hockey doesn’t phase Kasperi Kapanen. pic.twitter.com/a26k70vPvw— Scott Wheeler (@scottcwheeler) March 3, 2017
Take a second look at that GIF. It ends with Kapanen doing a barrel roll and looking quite uncomfortable, resting on one knee. As you can see better in the video here, he stayed down for more than just a moment, collecting himself while his teammates already were celebrating the goal.
Yesterday, two days after that incident, he was again out of the lineup. The immediate question was had he aggravated the injury from which he had supposedly recovered? It was a scary thought, but it looks like things are OK. Today, Kapanen is back in the lineup for the second game vs. the St. John’s IceCaps. A Marlies representative commented to PPP today that his absence was simply “being cautious after coming back from injury.”
With Bryon Froese traded, and Leipsic still out, Kapanen’s scoring talent has become even more important for the Marlies as they push for the AHL playoffs.