The Toronto Maple Leafs have sent Kasperi Kapanen back to the AHL to take part in the playoffs with the Marlies. Coming up late in the season, Kapanen played in all six postseason games for the Leafs this year, scoring two huge goals in a game 2 victory. The Finnish forward is becoming something of a “clutch” performer scoring the golden goal for Finland at the World Juniors last year and registering his first NHL tally in a do-or-die game for the Maple Leafs down the stretch.
The son of Sami Kapanen, Kasperi was picked in the first round by the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2014 before being shipped off to Toronto as part of the Phil Kessel deal. In 43 games with the Marlies this season, he registered 43 points and was their best player on most nights. He’ll look to continue that and show why he was once considered a top-10 talent prior to his draft.
The Maple Leafs don’t have a lot of room on the wing next season, especially after Mike Babcock said this morning that William Nylander was destined to stay there for at least another season. Kapanen, along with Josh Leivo, Kerby Rychel, Nikita Soshnikov and others will all be competing for limited spots next season. With Mitch Marner and now Nylander firmly entrenched on the right side, it will be interesting to see if the Leafs open up a spot on the left by moving out an expiring contract like James van Riemsdyk or Leo Komarov. Either way it will be a big summer for Kapanen as he tries to prove that he belongs full-time in the NHL next season.