A change of scenery can be beneficial for a player trying to find their way in professional hockey, this could be the case for Winnipeg Jets forward Rasmus Kupari.
The Jets acquired Kupari along with Alex Iafallo, Gabriel Vilardi and a 2024 second-round draft pick via trade from the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for Pierre-Luc Dubois in June.
While Iafallo and Vilardi have both put together some solid numbers at the NHL level, the same can’t be said for Kupari. The Finnish forward has posted nine goals with 20 points in 130 career games over the last three seasons in Los Angeles.
At 23 years of age, Kupari still has room for growth and development. The forward was drafted by the Kings 20th overall in the 2018 draft, and with the title of being a first-round pick comes expectations. The young forward has the potential to blossom into a top-six forward for his new team but needs to showcase his talents before making that leap.
Last season in Los Angeles, the former first-round draft selection averaged just 10:06 of ice time per game, the lowest in his three-year NHL career. In the playoffs, he totaled 0 points in six games, averaging just 7:47 of time on ice per game.
Kupari stands six-foot-two, 200 pounds, and he’s not afraid to use his size to his advantage. Defensively speaking, the forward put up his career-best campaign in 2022-23, blocking 34 shots and recording 80 hits. He finished with 16 takeaways to 12 turnovers and was efficient in the faceoff circle, winning 54.6 percent of the 403 draws he took.
The young forward has the potential to have a solid career as a two-way forward, however, it would be nice to see more offensive production. In 66 games played last year, Kupari scored three goals and a career-best 15 points.
He’s set to earn $832.5K in the final year of a three-year contract he signed with the Kings back in 2018. Kupari will need to be more productive if he wants to get a significant pay raise at the conclusion of the 2023-24 season... perhaps this could be the motivator he needs.
Making the move to Winnipeg could be beneficial for the young Kupari, as it could provide him with an opportunity to play a bigger role in a different system. He’ll get the opportunity to suit up with the Winnipeg Jets when they take on the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome in the season opener on October 11.