Prospect Impressions: Finland’s Barkov, Kapanen score, plus more top plays of the season

By David Hahn
Kasperi Kapanen - Team Finland - 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship

Photo: Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Kasperi Kapanen (#24) scored one of the bigger goals in international play in 2015-16, as he netted the overtime winner to give Finland the gold medal at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship (courtesy of MARKKU ULANDER/AFP/Getty Images)



The top plays of the year continues with ridiculous efforts from Florida Panthers forward Aleksander Barkov in the shootout, a young Swedish defenseman, and a goal that united a country. The second-best save of the season is also featured, and it might be a bit unconventional, but that’s okay with us!

15. Aleksander Barkov

Continuing right where he left off, Aleksander Barkov really came into his own this season with the Florida Panthers. Of course, having Johnathan Huberdeau and Jaromir Jagr on your wings more often tha not helps, but Barkov stepped up his game to a whole other level. Playing with confidence, Barkov channeled the ‘Petr Forsberg move’ to score on the New York Islanders.

14. Lucas Carlsson

If you are interested in the upcoming draft, you may want to keep Lucas Carlsson’s name in the back of your mind. The Gavle, Sweden native split this season between Brynas IF’s junior and SHL team, and put up points at both levels. In early February, Carlsson went coast-to-coast against Orebro and turned a defender inside-out. The best part about this play? Carlsson is a defenseman.

13. Jake Hildebrand

Michigan State goaltender Jake Hildebrand made three appearances this season in Prospect Impressions, and this was clearly his best. Showing his commitment to making the save, Hildebrand ditched his stick in favor of the double-glove diving save technique. I’m not sure if goalie coaches would teach this move, but it sure looks awesome.

12. Joe Blandisi

There are a number of different ways of looking at this between-the-legs goal by Joe Blandisi. He’ll tell you that he made the play by necessity, the Philadelphia Flyers think he did it to showboat, but can we all just agree that this was incredible? It was Blandisi’s fourth goal of the season in his 17th game, perhaps a good look at why this late-bloomer could be a key prospect in the New Jersey Devils pipeline.

11. Kasperi Kapanen

The 2016 World Junior Championship was one of the best in recent memory, thanks to a few goals and dueling top prospects clamoring for attention. Finland’s top line of Sebastian Aho (CAR) and 2016 draft-eligibles Patrik Laine and Jesse Puljujarvi drew a lot of attention, but it was Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Kasperi Kapanen that scored the golden goal that reinvigorated Finland as a hockey hotbed.

Stay tuned for next week’s Prospect Impressions as we dip into the Top 10 plays of the year!

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Follow Dave Hahn on Twitter via @DHahnHockey