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Rasmus Kupari burst onto the international stage last year. He played for Finland in the Under-17 World Hockey Challenge. He was also an underage player on Finland’s Under-18 World Championship team. His real coming out party though was the Hlinka tournament, where he put up seven points in just four games. This season he has split his time between Karpat in the SM-Liiga (six goals, 14 points in 39 games), with Hermes in the Mestis (one goal, four points in five games) playing against men, and in the Finnish U20 league (three goals, seven points in 11 games). He also played in this year’s World Juniors but did not register a point in five games.
Kupari is expected to play a role with Finland’s team at the upcoming IIHF Under-18 World Championships. His father, Marko Kupari, played pro hockey at lower levels in Finland during the 1990s.
Rasmus Kupari Scouting Report
Centre/Right Wing — shoots Right
Born March 15th, 2000 — Kotka, Finland
Height 6’1″ — Weight 183 lbs [185 cm / 83 kg]
Rasmus Kupari is an outstanding skater. Kupari is exceptionally fast and has great acceleration. His ability to change speeds is a weapon. He quickly changes speeds in order to get free from a defender or to open up passing and shooting lanes. He also has very good edgework and agility, which allows him to make quick cuts and fakes that can fool defenders. He could stand to be stronger on his feet though. More muscle in his lower body will allow him to fight through checks, be more effective in the cycle game, and win more battles along the boards.
Kupari is most dangerous with the puck on his stick. He is a tremendous stick handler and can beat defensemen one-on-one. Pairing this with his skating skills, and he is difficult to defend. Kupari also has very good passing skills and excellent vision. Once he opens up a passing lane, he quickly makes a tape-to-tape pass to a teammate. Kupari anticipates plays well, and knows where his teammates are going before they make their move. He almost always makes the smart play with the puck.
Kupari wrist shot has a good release, but he needs to work on both the accuracy and power. He needs to add mass to his frame though, as he can have issues being pushed off the puck right now. Kupari is getting better at scoring goals in tight. He gets to the front of the net without the puck, and is able to knock in rebounds and get deflections. He can be more effective as he grows into his frame.
Kupari is a willing back checker. He supports the defence with the good back pressure off the rush. He also understands positioning in his own end and cuts down passing lanes with a good stick. However, Kupari is not perfect in this area. As a young player there are still some improvements to be made in his positioning. Once a turnover is created, he transitions quickly to offence. However, his work down low is another area where added muscle will help him. He will become better at winning battles and containing his man and keeping him away from the front of the net. Kupari is decent in the face-off circle.
Projection and Comparison
Kupari has the ability to be a top six centre at the NHL level. Some development is needed though. It is not unusual for a 17-year-old playing his first season in a men’s league to need to add mass to his frame though. Other aspects of his game are good, but like most young players, they need some refinement. He has creativity and skill that cannot be taught and is an exciting prospect for this reason. Kupari’s game is reminiscent of Sebastian Aho of the Carolina Hurricanes, but this is a style comparison and not one based on talent level.
The following is a compilation of some of the many highlight packages of Kupari that are available on youtube.
Check back tomorrow for the next prospect on our draft board.
Embed from Getty Images
BUFFALO, NY – DECEMBER 31: Rasmus Kupari #34 of Finland in the second period against the United States during the IIHF World Junior Championship at KeyBank Center on December 31, 2017 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Kevin Hoffman/Getty Images)