Same Faces, New Places – Caputi, Boyd, and Purcell

Jeff Angus

2010-03-05

Dustin Boyd

 

A change of scenery can often be the catalyst for improved production among NHL players. There were several young forwards that changed addresses at the deadline this season, and a few of them in particular stand to benefit. Players coming up through the ranks with certain teams often get caught up in a numbers game, and can find it difficult, if not impossible, to break through to the NHL. As well, young forwards are often put into defensive, checking roles without ever being given the opportunity to play consistent minutes on a scoring line. It is tough to show what you can do with less than 10 minutes of ice time per night, and the following players can probably attest to that.

 

Luca Caputi


Luca Caputi has been something of an enigma in fantasy hockey circles for the past few seasons. He first started to gain serious attention after posting 111 points in 66 games with the Niagara Ice Dogs of the OHL a few years ago. His rise with Niagara was quite remarkable, as his two previous seasons saw him record 66 points and three points, respectively. Hockey fans were salivating at the idea that the lanky Caputi would likely end up flanking the likes of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin very soon.

 

He joined the Wilkes-Barrie Scranton Penguins last year, and finished his first professional season with 18 goals in 66 games. He earned a brief call-up to the Penguins, and even scored his first NHL goal. He ended up playing five games with the big club in 2008-09. Although his AHL production was unspectacular, Caputi continued to receive heavy attention from the fantasy hockey world. Watching him play, it was obvious to see he was still a very raw player though. Because of his 6'3" frame, people assumed or expected him to develop into a power forward. However, physicality is not and has never been a part of Caputi's game. Think Eric Daze instead of Keith Tkachuk. He uses his size well to win puck battles, but he is not one to initiate contact. Additionally, he was having issues handling the strength of professional defensemen, and his skating was going to have to improve in a big way in order for him to make the Penguins as a top six winger.

 

Caputi improved off of his 2008-09 numbers this season, scoring more goals (23) in fewer games (54). He also improved on his play away from the puck, and his skating has gotten better as well. He plays a very safe two-way game, and likes to cycle the puck and play below and around the net. The move to Toronto may have Caputi owners everywhere running for the hills, but it could end up being a positive step in Caputi's career. Pittsburgh obviously did not view him as a viable long term answer to their constant wi