Kapanen shrugs off Kessel comparisons: ‘I don’t really care’

Phil Kessel may be enjoying a more relaxed environment with the Pittsburgh Penguins, but back in Toronto, highly touted prospect Kasperi Kapanen is already starting to feel the heat.

Kapanen, who was the centrepiece coming back to the Leafs in a blockbuster deal that sent Kessel to the Penguins on July 1, is already drawing comparisons to the five-time 30-goal scorer.

“I don’t really care,” the Finnish winger told the Toronto Sun. “It’s one trade amongst others. It happened that I am in a trade with (Kessel). You can’t compare us we are two separate players but it’s always going to be like that.”

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Kapanen, the son of former NHLer Sami Kapanen, is among 16 forwards that will compete in the team’s annual rookie tournament at the Budweiser Gardens this weekend in London, Ont.

The Toronto media could never let the Phil Kessel-Tyler Seguin saga die until No. 81 was officially out of a Leafs uniform. Kapanen is still a few years away from being a regular in the Leafs lineup. Until then, he’ll more than likely have to deal with many more Kessel questions. 

“It’s sport and it’s a burden I have right now,” Kapenen added.

Meanwhile, back in the Steel City, a more composed Kessel met with media after a team skate on Thursday and admitted he’s already getting adjusted to a more laid-back environment in Pittsburgh.

“I think it’s a more relaxed environment than Toronto,” he told reporters. “I think obviously the media’s a little less here but like I said I expect to do well here and I expect our team to do well so I’m looking forward to it.

“It’s a whirlwind but I’m getting settled and getting ready,” Kessel said. “I’ve got a place here and I’m real excited for the start of the season.”

  • Davwud

    Saw a video of Phil today, skating with Sid. After he was asked about having lost weight. He said that he hadn’t. “Maybe a little” was what he settled on. He went on to say he ate better this off season but other than that, it was pretty much business as usual.

  • SEER

    Any comparison or connection to Kessel at this point, is just ridiculous…. Reporters sometimes need to put a bar of soap in their mouths and try and conjure up some intelligent thoughts..

    Leave the kid alone and let him develop..


    —> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YY_8NNteTXc

    ..and this was directed at the reporters at the rinks.. Not to your blog, Angelo..

    • giproc

      Comparison, no, a least not for a few years. But connections, most definitely. Kessel never shook the shadows of Seguin and Hamilton. I like the fact that Kasperi thinks he can and probably will.

      Kapanen is going to be scrutinized exactly the same as Kessel unless Harrington can pitch in by becoming a decent top 4 dman and the Pens’ 1st round pick becomes a Leaf regular somewhere down the line.

      I don’t think it’s just the media. Leaf fans overanalyse everything, compare everybody and look for evaluative clues even where they don’t appear to exist. It’s in our genes.

      Leaf Nation loves overachievers, those that are brought in cheap and appear to over-perform based on that low cost bar. Conversely, high-priced UFAs or those whose trade costs were high are the ones that must deal with bloated expectations. Having the Marlies in the same city isn’t exactly the easiest place to be nurtured either.

      Kids like Kapanen and Nylander grew up around the pro game. Both are mentally mature since they don’t seem awestruck by the attention. Give Kapanen a few months in Toronto with the Marlies and I think we’ll be pleasantly surprised so that Leaf fans can start keying on what we got in the Kessel trade rather than what we lost.

  • CMpuck

    stop asking kapanen about kessel and his dad getting killed by tucker. stop asking kessel about his weight/toronto. they’re different people in different surroundings. i’m sick of the media.