The Toronto Maple Leafs roared back to take an afternoon tilt against the Carolina Hurricanes today, scoring eight goals in total (while giving up six against). That kind of offensive firepower is because of the team’s depth up front, even with lineup regulars Trevor Moore and Andreas Johnsson still out with injury. That depth, along with a tough cap situation and defense corps that has struggled has led many to speculate on the future of Kasperi Kapanen, who recently signed a three-year, $9.6MM deal with the team. Pierre LeBrun spoke on TSN radio before the game about Kapanen’s future with the team:
I still talk to some teams that value him and like him. If he were to be made available I don’t think the Leafs would have a hard time gaining value in a trade involving him. In fact, it wouldn’t shock me if they did deal him. I think it’s probably in the offseason that it is before February 24th.
But again, because of the pressure of the cap and the pressure of having to figure out the defense moving forward next year, I think he’ll be one of the expendable parts. Not because I think the Leafs’ front office thinks any different of him, I think it’s just he’s at a certain number and I think they can get cheaper players to play those roles. It wouldn’t shock me if he was involved in a trade in the offseason.
Kapanen, 23, has eight goals and 19 points in 38 games this season. This is the second time recently a major hockey insider has spoken about the ease in which Toronto could trade the young winger, after Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet included a note about Kapanen’s value in his 31 Thoughts column earlier this month. Though there has been no indication that the Maple Leafs are leaning that way at this point, he’ll obviously be a player to watch in the summer.
- The Vancouver Canucks have gotten standout performances from several young players this season, but as Chris Johnston of Sportsnet points out that may actually have a consequence moving forward. Johnston notes that the performance bonuses of players like Elias Pettersson, Quinn Hughes and Adam Gaudette could add up to more than $4MM this season, a total that would be carried over against next year’s cap if they don’t have the room on this year’s books. The Canucks already have buyout hits and cap recapture penalties that add up to more than $4MM as well, meaning they could be playing with a much diminished pocket book in 2020-21.
- Friedman also noted over the weekend that negotiations with Braden Holtby of the Washington Capitals have been put off until after the season is over, something that makes his future with the team even more interesting. Holtby has been a rock for the Capitals for nearly a decade now, winning a Vezina Trophy in 2016 and earning all 16 wins in their Stanley Cup championship in 2018. That said, the team now has young netminder Ilya Samsonov showing what he can do at the NHL level (9-2-1 with a .916 save percentage in 12 appearances) and cap issues to solve with Nicklas Backstrom due for a new deal in 2020 and Alex Ovechkin in 2021. Friedman was clear to point out that the Capitals have extended other players like John Carlson and T.J. Oshie after the season previously, but Holtby may be a different situation entirely.