The trade, which was reported by Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman and officially announced by both clubs on Tuesday, also sees defenceman Jesper Lindgren and winger Pontus Aberg headed to Pittsburgh. Toronto receives Pittsburgh’s 2020 first-round draft pick (15th overall), as well as forwards Evan Rodrigues and Filip Hallander and defenceman David Warsofsky, in what is looking like a cap-clearing move for the Maple Leafs.
Kapanen has two seasons remaining on his current contract, a three-year, $9.6-million extension signed in June 2019, and carries a $3.2-million cap hit.
Both clubs involved in the trade were ousted in the qualifying round of the NHL’s 24-team return-to-play, making off-season changes a certainty following another disappointing post-season.
This deal brings things full-circle for Kapanen, who was Pittsburgh’s first-round pick (22nd overall) in 2014. The winger never actually suited up for the Penguins, as he was part of the 2015 blockbuster that sent Phil Kessel to the Penguins in 2015.
Kapanen, 24, tallied 41 goals and 90 points in 202 regular-season games across parts of five seasons with the Maple Leafs — a speedy complementary piece who has been plugged into various spots up and down the lineup with many top-six placements over the past few campaigns. He had his most productive season in 2018-19, during which he registered career-highs across the board: 20 goals, 24 assists and 44 points through 78 games.
“Kasperi is a good, young player that brings speed to our lineup and plays the way we want to play,” Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford said in the team’s press release. “Having previously drafted him, we know him as a player and feel he can improve our top-6. Aberg and Lindgren are both young players that will further add to our organizational depth.”
Aberg suited up for five games with the Maple Leafs this season — his first with the club after previously playing with Nashville, Edmonton, Anaheim and Minnesota — and registered one assist. In 55 games with the AHL’s Marlies, the 26-year-old winger tallied 20 goals and 44 points.
Lindgren spent all of 2019-20 with the Marlies, recording a goal and eight assists in 31 AHL games. The 23-year-old played the 2018-19 season in Finland’s top league, and was recently loaned to MODO of the Swedish Hockey League for the upcoming campaign.
Toronto-bound Rodrigues, 27, has appeared in 199 career NHL games, mostly with the Buffalo Sabres after signing with the Sabres as a college free agent out of Boston University. In and out of the lineups over the course of the past six seasons, Rodrigues has registered 27 goals and 45 assists for 72 career points as an NHLer. He appeared in just seven games with the Penguins after being acquired at the deadline, scoring once.
Hallander has been playing in the SHL for the past two seasons. The 2018 second-rounder (58th overall) scored a combined 12 goals and added 23 assists over that time. He represented Sweden during the 2019 world juniors, but was sidelined in 2020 due to injury.
Warsofsky, 30, has played the majority of his games as a pro at the AHL level, tallying
10 goals and 23 assists with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in 2019-20.