The 26-year-old is in the midst of a tough season that has seen him record just seven goals and 13 assists in 43 games while being a healthy scratch on multiple occasions. When he has been in the lineup, Kapanen is averaging just over 12 minutes a night which is a career low. However, prior to this season, he has been a capable middle-six winger, ranging between 11 and 20 goals over the last four seasons between Pittsburgh and Toronto while he is one of the faster players in the league as well.
With that track record, it’s understandable that St. Louis would want to take a flyer on Kapanen to try to restore some value. However, it does come with a somewhat notable salary commitment as the winger is in the first season of a two-year contract that carries a $3.2MM cap hit. As a result of that claim, the Blues will take the entirety of that contract on. Prior to the claim, they had nearly $71MM of commitments on the books for next season per CapFriendly with this claim pushing that number up to nearly $74MM for 16 players. That won’t leave them with a lot of wiggle room to add to the back of their roster.
To make room for Kapanen (who won’t play today against his now-former team) on their roster, the Blues announced (Twitter link) that forward Nikita Alexandrov has been sent down to AHL Springfield. The 22-year-old has five points in 20 games with St. Louis in his first taste of NHL action while he has done well in the minors, picking up 12 goals and 10 helpers in 28 contests with the Thunderbirds.
Meanwhile, it’s a disappointing end to Kapanen’s tenure with Pittsburgh with the team moving a first-round pick to reacquire him from Toronto less than two and a half years ago. However, the move gives them some much-needed financial flexibility. Being claimed allowed the Penguins to activate Jan Rutta from LTIR without needing to make any other roster moves while they will now have a bit more space to try to add another piece before the trade deadline.