Kapanen, who was re-acquired from the Toronto Maple Leafs before the 2020-21 season, has struggled to find his footing with the Penguins after a promising first year. In 43 games this season, the 26-year-old has recorded just seven goals and 13 assists, a steady drop-off from his production at the beginning of his Pittsburgh tenure.
The decision to waive Kapanen is made with the trade deadline in mind. The team is looking to clear some salary cap space to make a move, and burying Kapanen’s $3.2MM cap hit in the minors will take $1.125MM off his cap hit for the time being, the maximum buriable amount.
Kapanen has one year remaining on his contract after this season.
It’s highly doubtful Kapanen would be claimed on waivers, as the combination of his cap hit and term is undesirable for a player demoted to a fourth-line role this season. If he goes unclaimed, Kapanen could use some time with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins to regain confidence.
Kapanen last played in the minors with the Toronto Marlies in 2017-18, recording 24 points in 28 games.
The Penguins’ name has been popping up more in trade rumors, as the team has quickly lost their small cushion on a wild card spot. Assigning Kapanen to the minors slightly adds to their $1.225MM projected deadline cap space, per CapFriendly.