Kasperi Kapanen had hoped to make the Leafs’ lineup out of training camp in October. Instead he had to wait until last Thursday to make his regular season debut. In the Leafs' 5-3 loss to the Los Angeles Kings, Kapanen finished minus-one with five shots on goal and no points, but his performance still earned high praise from Mike Babcock.

“He used to be a skinny kid and now he has some meat on his bones and he can fly,” Babcock said. “He looks like an NHL player to me.”

Babcock doubled-down on that sentiment Saturday, not only by keeping Kapanen in the lineup over Josh Leivo for the second straight game, but by detailing how the 21-year-old has grown more into his body.

“You look at him and he’s a big, heavy guy, he’s got heavy legs,” Babcock said. “Last game he got pinched out by [Drew] Doughty, squeezed out to the corner and come out to the net front. So he’s heavy enough to play in the league. We often say a guy is light. We don’t mean he doesn’t weigh anything, we mean he’s not strong enough to handle the physical [part of] going and winning one-on-one battles. Kappy had great speed, but he was light. Now it looks like he’s ready for the next level.”

Kapanen had been among the last cuts the Leafs made this year, even with the writing on the wall that their lineup wouldn’t be able to hold another speedy, talented winger given the crop it already had. Despite how well Kapanen played late last season and into playoffs for the Leafs (posting three goals in 13 games), he went back to the AHL’s Toronto Marlies where a positive attitude was paramount.