Leafs traded Kapanen to Pittsburgh
Photo: Yahoo Canada Sports

The Toronto Maple Leafs traded Kasperi Kapanen to the Pittsburgh Penguins in their first offseason move after a poor postseason showing. General Manager Kyle Dubas made his first offseason move to prepare for next season and it’s no surprise it wasn’t one of the big four forwards who was moved. Dubas made the trade with Eastern Conference rivals the Pittsburgh Penguins, sending forward Kasperi Kapanen, defenseman Jesper Lindgren and pending restricted free agent forward Pontus Aberg to the Steel City. In return, he added forwards Evan Rodrigues and Filip Hallander, journey defenseman David Warsofsky and a 2020 first-round pick in a trade that sees both teams getting what they needed.

Nothing in that trade jumps off the page except the first-round pick Dubas received for a draft that is considered to be close in top talent after Alexis Lafreniere, the consensus number one. With the number 15 pick, you have a chance to restock your depth pool at a much lower salary cap than what Kapanen was picking up. Sam Cosentino originally had the Penguins picking center Dylan Holloway in that position, so it will be interesting to see if the Leafs go a similar route or look to stock up on D-men.

As for the other moving parts, the Leafs were never going to re-sign Pontus Aberg, who was left off their return to play roster, and the forward has already signed a one-year deal with KHL side Traktor Chelyabinsk. Meanwhile, defenseman Jesper Lindgren had fallen behind Rasmus Sandin and Timothy Liljegren in the call-up pecking order.

As for the Penguins, despite not getting past the first round the last two seasons they are still in win-now mode. This will remain so until Sidney Crosby decides to hang up his skates. To do that the Nova Scotia native needs help and Kapanen will provide that. Kapanen can play on the top line if need be but is probably more effective in the middle six and would make a good right winger for Evgeni Malkin.

What they gave up apart from that first pick will not harm them either. Evan Rodrigues was a Restricted Free Agent who it looked unlikely they would re-sign. Defenseman David Warsofsky is a 7th D at best and Pittsburgh has enough other options there to cover that. Lastly, forward Filip Hallander, a second-round draft pick in 2018 by the Penguins, has failed to impress enough in the SHL to get a callup to even the AHL affiliate Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins.

Speaking on the trade, Pittsburgh GM Jim Rutherford told media “Kasperi is a good, young player that brings speed to our lineup and plays the way we want to play.” It’s also a return to the team who drafted him for Kapanen as the Penguins took him 22nd overall in 2014 before trading him to the Maple Leafs in 2015 as part of the Phil Kessel deal.

The Toronto Maple Leafs traded Kasperi Kapanen to the Pittsburgh Penguins as a necessity to get what they needed. Toronto got rid of a contract that will now allow them to try to re-sign restricted free agent Travis Dermott while Pittsburgh got some scoring depth for another run at the Stanley Cup next year. A first-round pick though might have been a little too much. Only time will tell.

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