Weâ€™ve partnered up with Pension Plan Puppets to bring to you a Player Review series, where we will be evaluating and grading the 2009-10 season for every Leaf who featured in a significant number of games for the Blue and White last season, with an eye towards 2010-11.Today we feature Luca Caputi, profiled by Garrett Bauman.
One of the Penguins’ highest-ranked prospects, 21-year old Toronto native Luca Caputi was acquired by the Maple Leafs on the eve of the Trade Deadline in exchange for long-serving winger Alexei Ponikarovsky.
Caputi’s acquisition was another in a long line of moves by GM Brian Burke designed to (a) clean house, and (b) add young players with upside who can contribute immediately.
To Caputi’s credit, the early returns have been positive the 6’3, 200lb winger can develop into a regular contributor, although with only 28 NHL games under his belt (19 with the Maple Leafs), it is difficult to gauge on what his ultimate role, or impact, will be. The 2010-11 season should provide a crucial indication of his NHL future.
Caputi did not look out of place in the 19 games he played for the Leafs following his acquisition, averaging 14:37 TOI in and producing 6 points (1 G, 5 A) in what was predominantly a third-line role. He made quite the impression during his first game at the ACC, driving hard to the net and banging in a rebound for the tying goal in a game the Leafs would later win in overtime. Caputi displayed strong two-way instincts during his cup of coffee with the Leafs, recording 8 takeaways against only 1 giveaway, winning 10 of 23 faceoffs (43.5%, respectable for a winger), and posting an even plus-minus rating.
With only 32 shots on goal in 19 games with the Leafs, and a dreadful 3.1 shooting percentage, Caputi needs to shoot the puck more if his offensive game is to grow.Â He must also develop more of a mean streak — he had only 20 hits, and drew only 2 penalties — in order to maximize his effectiveness along the boards.
For all the promise Caputi shows in his game, his skating may ultimately be what holds him back from reaching his full potential.Â Several times last season, he looked as though he had trouble keeping up to the play; fortunately, good positional instincts bailed him out on most occasions. Over an 82-game season, however, instincts alone won’t be enough to compensate for average footspeed.
Now it’s your turn.Â In the comments, rate Caputi on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the best) based on his performance relative to his potential and your expectations for the season.