Toronto Maple Leafs right wing Kasperi Kapanen (24) tries to move past Florida Panthers defenceman MacKenzie Weegar (52). (Nathan Denette/CP)
The Toronto Maple Leafs have traded forward Kasperi Kapanen back to the Pittsburgh Penguins in a multi-player trade.
The deal, which was reported by Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman and officially announced by both clubs on Tuesday, also sees defenceman Jesper Lindgren and winger Pontus Aberg headed to Pittsburgh. Toronto receives Pittsburgh’s 2020 first-round draft pick (15th overall), as well as forwards Evan Rodrigues and Filip Hallander and defenceman David Warsofsky, in what is looking like a cap-clearing move for the Maple Leafs.
TOR D prospect Jesper Lindgren also going to PIT. Sounds like a first-rounder is key part of return. TOR clearing space
Kapanen has two seasons remaining on his current contract, a three-year, $9.6-million extension signed in June 2019, and carries a $3.2-million cap hit.
Both clubs involved in the trade were ousted in the qualifying round of the NHL’s 24-team return-to-play, making off-season changes a certainty following another disappointing post-season.
This deal brings things full-circle for Kapanen, who was Pittsburgh’s first-round pick (22nd overall) in 2014. The winger never actually suited up for the Penguins, as he was part of the 2015 blockbuster that sent Phil Kessel to the Penguins in 2015.
Kapanen, 24, tallied 41 goals and 90 points in 202 regular-season games across parts of five seasons with the Maple Leafs — a speedy complementary piece who has been plugged into various spots up and down the lineup with many top-six placements over the past few campaigns. He had his most productive season in 2018-19, during which he registered career-highs across the board: 20 goals, 24 assists, and 44 points through 78 games.
“Kasperi is a good, young player that brings speed to our lineup and plays the way we want to play,” Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford said in the team’s press release. “Having previously drafted him, we know him as a player and feel he can improve our top-6. Aberg and Lindgren are both young players that will further add to our organizational depth.”
Aberg suited up for five games with the Maple Leafs this season — his first with the club after previously playing with Nashville, Edmonton, Anaheim, and Minnesota — and registered one assist.
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