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Topic: Luca Caputi (Read 645 times)
Old School Member
Jun 25, 2008 at 10:15 »
I'm going on record right now saying this kid is going to be the next great power forward in the NHL. He has the size, the toughness, the skill and the right attitude.
Penguins' Caputi boosting his stock
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
By Dave Molinari, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Luca Caputi was a moderately intriguing prospect when he reported to the Penguins' conditioning camp a year ago.
Sure, he hadn't been claimed until the fourth round of the draft a few days earlier, but his combination of size (6 feet 3, 185 pounds) and stats (
27 goals, 38 assists in 58 games
) suggested that he just might have a place in the team's plans someday.
Much has changed since then. Caputi, 19, a left winger,
piled up 51 goals and 60 assists in 66 games with the Niagara IceDogs
, earned a berth in the Ontario Hockey League all-star game and had a strong showing in 19 games with the Penguins' minor-league team in Wilkes-Barre during the Calder Cup playoffs.
Caputi, who is back in town for the team's 2008 conditioning camp, isn't necessarily on a fast track toward a spot in the Penguins' opening-night lineup, but he certainly has surged toward a prominent place in their future.
"I've come a long way since I got drafted," he said yesterday. "If you would have told me at the beginning of the year that I was going to score 50 goals and play in the Calder Cup final, I probably would have just giggled at you."
Caputi was one of several newcomers to the organization -- center Dustin Jeffrey was another -- who made a favorable impression during a rookie tournament last fall in Kitchener, Ontario. His play there provided the impetus for a strong start in the OHL, and his momentum built as the season progressed.
Caputi is strong along the boards, has no qualms about going to the net and has demonstrated considerable hockey sense.
"I just try to play the same way every game," he said. "Pay attention to details, play simple, make the plays I need to make."
Caputi followed a strong regular season in the OHL by recording eight goals and nine assists in 10 playoff games with the IceDogs before joining Wilkes-Barre/Scranton for the Baby Penguins' postseason run.
He had four goals and four assists in 19 games in Wilkes-Barre, and credited the team's veterans -- particularly Nathan Smith and Connor James, his usual linemates -- with easing his transition to pro hockey.
"Dustin and I came into a team where the group of guys was just unbelievable," Caputi said. "They helped me so much. Even when I came to Wilkes-Barre and didn't get into the lineup for four or five games, I felt like I was part of the team.
"They just made me feel confident ... and I played with the confidence I played with in junior."
A profile posted on the IceDogs' Web site gives the distinct impression that Caputi and Pittsburgh are a good match, and not simply because his food of choice is gnocchi.
His favorite NHL player and the athlete he admires most, for example, is Sidney Crosby. And the best hockey advice he received is "whatever it takes," a catchphrase that became moderately popular in these parts during the Steelers' dynasty in the 1970s.
Odds are that Caputi won't get steady work with the Penguins for a while, and he concedes that he probably will be back in the American Hockey League this fall. That doesn't mean he's willing to accept that such an assignment is inevitable.
"This is a huge summer for me," he said. "I know that I have to get bigger, have to get stronger, have to get faster. When I come back to camp, I still feel like I'll have a lot to prove, even though I had a good year."
"I feel like nothing's been accomplished yet. I want to come back and make it as hard as possible for them to send me to Wilkes-Barre."
The gem of the Pens minor league system.
Just one man's opinion.
"It's a big game because it's the next game." - Mike Tomlin
Old School Member
Reply #1 on:
Jun 25, 2008 at 14:03 »
Hopefully Johnson and Jeffrey mature and produce down below and eventually take that next step. Stone and Filewich did not exactly impress me when they came up and it would be nice to see us start bringing up some legitimate WBS talent and I'm not talking about Tyler Kennedy type players. I'm talking about players who can net us some goals.
Eitherway though, I think I'm going to wait until these guys (Caputi, Johnson, Jeffrey) play a national hockey league game before I start stating they will be better than players who have made it and established themselves at the NHL level. Example, I'm hearing Mark Madden has stated he's going to be better than Ryan Malone......just a tad bit premature. It's not an easy leap to make. A guy could play great down in WBS and look like hell when he takes that next step. I'm going with the wait and see approach with these guys. Hopefully those days will come sooner rather than later.
But, if I had to compare
when it comes to Caputi, I would compare him to a Chad Kilger with more offensive upside. At best, a Glen Murray/Jeff Carter type player. He still needs to put on more weight for sure and work on his skating, his excelleration in particular. He has one hell of a shot (release and accuracy). Plays a safe game. Nothing fancy or colorful. Straight forward, in your face style. A pretty solid all around offensive player. Can he bring it to the NHL level? That remains to be seen.
Last Edit: Jun 25, 2008 at 14:41 by PghSteel-43
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