The Pittsburgh Penguins have avoided arbitration with Kasperi Kapanen, as PuckPedia reports the two sides have agreed to a two-year deal worth a total of $6.4MM. Kapanen was one of 24 players to file for salary arbitration earlier this month but will no longer need his hearing, which had yet to be scheduled.
Interestingly enough, because of the way his previous contract was designed by the Toronto Maple Leafs, Kapanen’s qualifying offer this summer only needed to be $840K. That’s despite a $3.2MM cap hit, the same number he will come in at on this new deal. The arbitration process would have likely yielded a deal similar to this, though the Penguins would have been able to decide whether it was a one or two-year award.
Still, there will be some who are disappointed that Kapanen remains at the same cap hit after another disappointing season. The 25-year-old has such obvious talent, with blinding speed, good puck skills, and a strong shot, but it has rarely resulted in a consistent performance. In 79 games this season he scored just 11 goals and 32 points, barely equaling his totals from 2020-21, when he played in just 40 games.
That has been the story of his career so far, and one that makes this deal relatively risky for the Penguins. Pittsburgh is in a win-now mode as Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Kris Letang approach the end of their careers, making $3.2MM in cap space even more valuable than it would be in some markets. If Kapanen plays the way he did in 2021-22, it will be a waste of precious resources.
Still, there is that tantalizing, immense upside with the speedster. During his first year (back) with the Penguins, that aforementioned shortened 2021-22 campaign, he scored at a 61-point pace. That kind of production would actually bring quite a bit of surplus value to the table and give Pittsburgh another legitimate force in the top nine.
As this will take him to unrestricted free agency in the summer of 2024, there is also a possibility that the Penguins intend to trade Kapanen at some point. The deal did not buy out a single UFA year, meaning he’s now scheduled to reach the market at the age of 27 (though he will be turning 28 just a few weeks into that year’s free agent period).
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images
Is Scott Boras representing Kapanen?
$3.2 total over two years is what he’s worth, not each year.
I don’t get this at all and I dislike Kapanen more than most Pens fans.
@forwhomjoshbelltolled – The first name that came to mind when you mentioned Boras was Kurt Overhardt, aka Kurt “Overcharge”. Turns out, it’s the next worst guy, Markus Lehto, who also represents Jesse Puljujarvi, among others. So, basically, you’re still right, in concept. I agree $3.2MM total is what it should’ve been. Hextall still hasn’t put out the flaming wreckage on his porch, has he?
Hmm, meant to say “I dislike Kapanen LESS than most Pens fans”.
But, he was awful last year and the only reason to keep him was if he was going to take a big “prove it” pay cut. Kapanen at $2 million or less AAV, OK.
Rather have used this money for any number of other things.
Nylander on WBS is similar to Kap in many ways and costs 1/4. He seemed to improve significantly over last half of season as he received some coaching and got more comfortable in the system. Heck they let Felix Robert go and I’m fairly confident he’ll end up being a decent contributor to TBL sooner rather than later.
He wasn’t awful. Just didn’t play up to expectations. I agree, of course, that his level of play merits $2MM, about.
And obviously, what this deal costs them is any shot at Rodrigues.
Goku the All Knowing
there’s a chance this ends up looking like a steal a year from now, if he can post 20+ goals at his age, then we’re looking at a 5+AAV value next off-season
Christmas In July for Kapanen.
KK gets only .75M a year less than Niederreiter got? Pays to have a good agent!
Almost as bad as the gundbranson deal with Columbus
Pittsburgh will crucify Hextall if all of this money he’s throwing around doesn’t get them closer to the Cup than another 1st-round exit. Part of me believes that is what new mgmt is hoping for, assign blame to Hextall/Burke as scapegoats so they can enter rebuild mode without assuming responsibility for these deals.