Toronto Maple Leafs: Kapanen Isn’t Sticking Around for Long

TORONTO, ON - MAY 9: Kasperi Kapanen
TORONTO, ON - MAY 9: Kasperi Kapanen /

The Toronto Maple Leafs have a lot of depth at the forward position, so we must ask ourselves, is Kasperi Kapanen worth keeping?

As news comes out that the Toronto Maple Leafs are in the market for a defenceman, we all wonder who it will be going the other way in a deal.

The top trade chip on my chart? Kapanen.

He was acquired as the main piece in the Phil Kessel trade back in the summer of 2015 from the Pittsburgh Penguins, and since then, the Leafs have had high hopes for the 21-year-old winger.

Now last year in the playoffs, Kapanen was huge for the Leafs scoring big goals and helping them almost get past the goliath Washington Capitals, but there isn’t any room on this Leafs team for him anymore.

With the acquisition of Patrick Marleau, the move signified the Leafs were in a “win now” mode and could be willing to move on from young prospects like Kapanen if it were to help them in the short-term.

The Leafs could use help on the blue line, and most notably for penalty kill usage. Ron Hainsey and Nikita Zaitsev have been overworked being ranked one and two on short-handed ice time, so the need for help on that front is evident.

Kapanen will only get a call-up to the Leafs if there is an injury, and even then there is no guarantee he will be up with the big club as Nikita Soshnikov and Josh Leivo look like they may have the edge on him, so Kapanen looks like the odd man out.

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Kapanen is the top prospect for the Leafs in a very large and very overwhelming prospect pool, which looks to me like other teams would drool over the fact they could have this talented young winger on their team for the foreseeable future.

In my opinion, the defenceman I could see him bring in is Erik Gudbranson from the Vancouver Canucks.

A big strong stay at home defenceman with a big right-handed shot could fit with the Leafs very well and help them on the penalty kill heavily. Although he is a UFA after this season, the only way I see this trade happening is if it’s a sign and trade.

Why Kapanen?

Kapanen is a young, high-end talent and could bring in something useful for the Leafs in an area they need help with.

The wing is overflowed with great talent, and although they might be losing James van Riemsdyk and Leo Komarov next season (as of right now), I feel there are other players to fill those spots.

Kapanen is left as the odd man out and a player who could bring in the best player for the Leafs in their hunt for the Stanely Cup.

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He is a player the Leafs can afford to lose, and a player another team will be dying to have.