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Prospect Profile - Louie Caporusso

Senators prospect Louie Caporusso is another name that many Ottawa fans have heard but might not necessarily know too much about.

Caporusso was the Senators 3rd round pick (90th overall) in the 2007 entry draft.  The 22 year old forward just completed his fourth and final NCAA season with the Michigan Wolverines in the NCAA.  Twice he scored over 20 goals for Michigan, but his numbers were down slightly in his Senior year (11G, 20A).

In SenShot’s never-ending quest to keep you informed about all things Senators, I bring you the third in my series of prospect profiles, by picking the brain of Steven Nesbitt, who is Co-Managing Editor of the Michigan Daily, U of M’s newspaper.

 

What are Louie Caporusso’s strengths?

Caporusso showed his hand right off the bat at Michigan. He was a pure, unrelenting goal scorer. He scored 24 goals as a sophomore to finish the season as a Hobey Baker finalist. His junior season was nearly a carbon copy, with 21 goals. But since then his focus shifted a bit, from being a goal scorer to a more defensive-minded forward. Still, Caporusso finished with 144 points in 160 games at Michigan. His speed isn’t quite as good as teammate Carl Hagelin (now with the Connecticut Whale), but Louie was usually the second-quickest on Michigan’s squad. His speed is certainly no liability. He’s very reliable on defense, has a nice, heavy shot, and he has showed great signs of scoring finesse. Good hockey smarts. As an aside, he’s great with the media. Louie’s the first guy to chime in with a quote of the day, and he’s the first guy you look for when the team steps off the ice. He’ll give it straight, and adds some of his personality. The fans love him, so does the microphone.


What does he need to work on as a pro?
Perhaps Caporusso’s biggest point of criticism is that he’s a perennial second-half perfomer. He knows this, the team knows this. After his torrid 2008-09 campaign, Caporusso began his junior season with just 21 points (7 G, 14 A) in his first 30 games, but led the Wolverines’ charge to the final of the NCAA Regional by pouring in 22 points (14 G, 8 A) in Michigan’s last 15 games. His senior season was a similar story, although the year-end numbers weren’t quite as gaudy (11 G, 20 A). For Louie to even get a sniff at cracking the NHL roster for Ottawa, he needs to put together a full, consistent season. He’s not the flashiest player — won’t light up the score sheet night in and night out, necessarily — but he’s a very solid defensive center, and it won’t take long for his defensive game to catch up to upper-level hockey, he just needs to show he can be productive on offense in a steady manner. One really positive thing for Louie last season was his goal-assist ratio; sure, the goals were down, but he admitted that he was working harder to focus on defense and setting his teammates up. And it worked. Carl Hagelin and Chris Brown both saw their production increase when paired with Louie.


Is there someone in the NHL right now that you would compare him to?

This one might be a little stretch, but after a few discussions with other writers, we tabbed Louie as a Devin Setoguchi-type player. While he might not have the same scoring streak as Setoguchi, he’s a tremendous passer, much like his teammate Matt Rust (2007 Florida Panthers 4th-round pick). Both are good skaters who really show up in big games. Just as Setoguchi seems to show up around playoff time for some of the team’s biggest goals, Caporusso will be the best player on the ice when his team needs it most. He’ll find the right spot to be in.

 

How do you see him handling the schedule difference from College to Pro?

I don’t see the increased schedule messing Caporusso up at all. Granted, the college schedule consisted of just Friday, Saturday and Sunday games, but it still is a similar length to the pro season. Michigan played eight months of hockey last season, so you still need longevity even if you’re only playing 40-50 games. And the way Red Berenson runs his squad, they’re not getting too many off-days during the year. And for Caporusso in particular, he admittedly isn’t a great practice player. He told me once he sometimes wonders if coach will let him stay dressed for the game that weekend. It’s all in jest, of course, but Louie is very much a big-game player. While we mentioned his inconsistency earlier, the plus side of that is when the red-letter games arrived, so did Louie. His playoff performances at Michigan were what earned him a special place in town, and when the best competition faced off with Michigan, Louie was the key center on the top line. And looking at the schedule, Louie carried the Wolverines to some pretty great places.

 

Short answer that I’ve made quite long: Although it’ll be impossible to discover until Caporusso plays some professional games, based on his relatively good health at Michigan, I don’t see anything hindering him in the longer season.


Any other intangibles Caporusso possesses?

I’ll run the risk of being cliché and simply say that Caporusso is a winner. Coming from Woodbridge, Ont., he spent a few years at St. Mike’s — perhaps the most well-known prep school in eastern Canada. Caporusso has an NHL pedigree. Over 200 players have gone from St Mike’s to the NHL, and Louie — alongside Detroit Red Wings’ Brendan Smith — led the Buzzers (OHA Provincial Junior A) to their last conference title. And once he came to Michigan, the Wolverines continued their 21-year run of reaching the NCAA Tournament each season. In four years at Michigan, the team lost the Regional opener (2010), lost the Regional final (2009) and reached the Frozen Four twice (2008, 2011).

 Want another odd intangible? He’s killer in NHL rinks. Michigan got to play quite a few games at Joe Louis Arena during the Great Lakes Invitational and conference finals. In 21 games at the Joe, Caporusso tallied 18 points. And alongside that, he had two points in two games at Scottrade Center in the St. Louis Regional this season. And at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn. he added a point in two games. Put that against the rest of his season and Louie had two goals the entire season at Yost (U of M’s home arena), three at the Joe and one at Scottrade Center.


What roles did he have at Michigan? (ie PP, PK, defensive, offensive)

Caporusso did just about everything for Red Berenson. As an assistant captain during the 2010-11 season, he centered the top line, was on the first PP unit, the second PK unit and was Berenson’s go-to centerman — along with Rust — on the defensive end of the ice. The numbers aren’t so high in Louie’s stats, but Red is very keen on keeping his centers out high to be ready to transition to the back-check and be the first forward back on defense. On offense, Caporusso was mainly used to dish the puck to the wings, minimizing his scoring chances that he might have taken earlier in his career. He spent a little time on the wing, but was happy to get back to center, saying he liked to be able to touch the puck more as a playmaker.


Is there anything that can hold him back as a player?

I don’t really see anything major that will hinder Louie as a player. It’s all a progression, of course, and he’s made strides in many ways. He turned from a pure scorer into more of a set-up man who shows his scoring flair when it’s needed. The way he said it in March, he transitioned from just a prolific goal scorer to a more “complete player.” From what we’ve seen, he works well with his teammates, taking advice and criticism alike, and he was very excited to be signed by the Senators this spring. He should be ready to go.


Can you see him in the NHL as a regular?  If so, what role do you see him having?

It’s not going to happen in 2011, and it may take a few years, but I do think Caporusso has the skill set to make it at the NHL level. I think he could be a regular on probably a third line, maybe even second, where he can find some room to get his legs moving and make some plays on the open ice. He’s a steady enough performer that along with his strong defensive skill, he can really make some quick improvements and be a big part of an NHL team down the road. I’d keep my eye on this kid.

 

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So there you have it, from someone who has seen Caporusso play up close over his college career.  Yet another prospect that can eventually develop and compete for an NHL job.  At the very least, he will provide even more depth in Binghamton and make players above him on the depth chart look over their shoulders.

You can view previous Prospect Profiles by visiting:

Pat Cannone (with Vic Brotzman)

Wacey Hamilton (with Darren Steinke)

Once again I would like to thank Stephen Nesbitt for sharing his thoughts on Louie Caporusso with us.

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Thanks for reading and as always, comments are welcomed.

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