Prospect Impressions: Kapanen’s golden goal, Nedeljkovic shines, Pu’s classy celebration

By David Hahn
Tyler Moy - Harvard University

Photo: Harvard University forward and Nashville Predators prospect Tyler Moy is trying to equal or improve upon a solid 2014-15 season that led to his being drafted by the Predators (courtesy of Richard T. Gagnon/Getty Images)

 

 

The 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship came to a conclusion last week, with Finland garnering the gold medal in overtime thanks to Kasperi Kapanen. Alex Nedeljkovic was a big reason why the United States picked up a bronze medal, making a huge “spiderman” save in the process. Plenty more highlights await in this week’s Prospect Impressions.

The Toronto Maple Leafs had a number of prospects participating in the World Junior Championship this year, and while most of the attention was supposed to be focused on Wiliam Nylander, his injury forced a change of plans. Enter Kasperi Kapanen, who energized a nation with his golden goal in overtime to help the Finns successfully defend home ice. He will forever be linked with Phil Kessel as the main centerpiece of that trade, but this effort will go a long way in the minds and hearts of most Leafs fans.

The United States lost a difficult semi-final game against Russia, but showed their resolve to come back and beat Sweden to win a bronze medal the very next day. One of the big storylines for the red, white, and blue was 2016 NHL Draft-eligible forward Auston Matthews, but goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic carried the load and was one of the tournament’s best goaltenders. Affectionally referred to as “Ned,” he came up with a number of big saves throughout the tournament, including this stop where he does his best Spiderman impersonation.

The story among NHL rookies heading into the season was focused on Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel, but Artemi Panarin and Dylan Larkin are bursting onto the scene in their own right. Larkin, in particular, forced the Detroit Red Wings into keeping him permanently after a phenomenal training camp, and he is now parlaying that success in the regular season. With 14 goals and 15 assists halfway through the season, Larkin has been one of the most valuable Red Wings so far. He leads the entire NHL in plus/minus, and with moves like this, it won’t be long before he is climbing the goal charts, too.

It happens a few times every year, but this goal by Vimal Sukumaran of the Chilliwack Chiefs is a must-see. The between-the-legs goal has been done before, but there is just something mesmerizing about this one. Sukumaran, a former standout with Salisbury School, one of the top prep schools in the United States, has put together a solid season with Chilliwack in the BCHL. If he continues to score goals like this, he will certainly be a freshman to keep an eye on next year when he suits up for Providence College.

Harvard University isn’t exactly a hockey hotbed, but Tyler Moy is changing that rhetoric one goal at a time. The Nashville Predators prospect is halfway through a fine junior season for Harvard, and currently has four goals and five assists through 14 games. Moy, a La Jolla, California native, is bringing some sunshine to the lineup with great individual efforts like this end-to-end rush against Quinnipiac.

When Travis Konecny departed for Helsinki, Finland to play for Canada in the WJC, it was undetermined if he would play another game as the Ottawa 67’s captain. Upon his return to the OHL, he had a new home as the Sarnia Sting paid the price to acquire the premier player available at the trade deadline. Paired up with New Jersey Devils prospect Pavel Zacha, the two have been deadly together. Konecny notched a hat-trick in his Sting debut, but it is this shootout-deciding goal that gets him included in Prospect Impressions this week.

You’ve seen the goal before, the low shot off the pad of the goaltender to create a juicy rebound in front. That’s what London’s Max Jones and Cliff Pu produced this weekend, but it is the celebration that has the hockey world talking. How is this for a gentlemanly “celly?”

 

Last week’s Prospect Impressions feature

Follow Dave Hahn on Twitter via @DHahnHockey