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Penguins notebook: First-round pick Kapanen practices, excited to join team

| Tuesday, July 15, 2014, 7:36 p.m.
Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review
Penguins first-round pick Kasperi Kapanen takes a shot during prospects camp Tuesday, July 15, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review
Penguins first-round pick Kasperi Kapanen eyes up a shot during prospects camp Tuesday, July 15, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.

Right wing Kasperi Kapanen is only 17 but looked quite comfortable in his first day on the Consol Energy Center ice.

The Penguins' recent first-round draft pick joined teammates in drills during the first day of prospect development camp and said he felt fairly calm throughout, even though it was an eye-opening day.

“Being in this locker room,” he said, “seeing all the people here, putting on that Penguins uniform — it's starting to hit me now. But it's good.”

Kapanen, whose father, Sami, played parts of 11 seasons in the NHL with the Hartford/Carolina franchise and the Flyers, might have been impressed with his new surroundings but certainly wasn't in awe.

He tweeted a picture of himself in his hotel room one day earlier and was every bit at ease with his new teammates.

“I feel really good right now,” he said, alluding to a lack of nerves. “The legs felt bad, but it will come later in the week. I was just happy to be on the ice.”

Kapanen was a standout performer in the opening day of prospect development camp, his unique skating strides sticking out during many rushes.

General manager Jim Rutherford believes Kapanen can contend for a roster spot in training camp.

“The coaches are really great people here,” Kapanen said. “I think we have a great coaching staff. I'm excited. I'm just trying to be a sponge right now.”

• Defenseman Brian Dumoulin, who will be given an opportunity to make the Penguins' roster in training camp, was a standout during the opening day of development camp. He said his goal “absolutely” is to make the Penguins' roster this fall.

• Penguins coach Mike Johnston, along with assistants Rick Tocchet and Gary Agnew, were present for on-ice drills Tuesday.

— Josh Yohe

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