11:55am: Bob McKenzie of TSN reports that the deal is close to complete but will not be finalized until Marner’s situation is resolved. It is expected to be a three-year contract that will carry an average annual value between “in the $3.2MM to $3.4MM range.”
9:59am: The Toronto Maple Leafs have dominated headlines with restricted free agent negotiations, but mostly ones regarding Mitch Marner. There are two other key players who need new contracts in Kasperi Kapanen and Andreas Johnsson, and the Maple Leafs may be getting closer on at least one of them. Chris Johnston of Sportsnet reported last night that the Maple Leafs are getting closer to an extension with Kapanen, and Darren Dreger of TSN noted the same this morning.
Kapanen, 22, broke out this season with 20 goals and 44 points for the Maple Leafs while regularly lining up beside Auston Matthews on the team’s second unit. The speedy forward was also a regular on the penalty kill, even scoring a pair of short-handed goals. The fact that only three of his points came on the powerplay suggests that there might be an even higher level of production that Kapanen can get to in the future, making this an important negotiation for both sides.
While not eligible for arbitration, the young forward does have a solid bit of leverage with the Maple Leafs given their cap crunch and negotiations with Marner. The team has to get Kapanen at a reasonable amount if they want to bring everyone back, meaning he’ll likely get another chance to improve his stock on a short-term deal. That is of course unless the team has plans of moving out some salary somewhere else and inking Kapanen to a long-term deal at a reasonable but more expensive price.
There has also been reports that the Maple Leafs included Kapanen in a trade offer recently, trying to pry Brett Pesce out of Carolina. A new deal doesn’t guarantee that Kapanen would remain in Toronto for the season, as he cannot agree to any sort of trade protection given his status as a restricted free agent.