Toronto Maple Leafs: The Fallout of the Kasperi Kapanen Trade

Former Toronto Maple Leafs player Kasperi Kapanen #42 of the Pittsburgh Penguins (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Former Toronto Maple Leafs player Kasperi Kapanen #42 of the Pittsburgh Penguins (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Maple Leafs traded away a talented player in Kasperi Kapanen. Here is your update on what has happened since the deal was completed.

On Aug 25, 2020, pinched by the salary cap, the Toronto Maple Leafs made a move that sent a valuable player in Kasperi Kapanen out of town.

This move has subsequently been called into question after Kapanen had a breakout year for the Penguins in 2021.

We revisit the fallout of the trade and look into how Kapanen performed last season.

Toronto Maple Leafs and Kasperi Kapanen

On July 1, 2015, Toronto sent Phil Kessel ($1.2 million retained annually until after next season), Tyler Biggs and Tim Erixon to the Penguins for Kapanen, Scott Harrington and Nick Spaling. The Leafs also received a first-round draft pick in 2016 (later traded to the Anaheim Ducks for Freddie Andersen, while the Ducks selected Sam Steel with the pick) and a third-round draft pick in 2016 (the Maple Leafs selected James Greenway).

In addition to landing Kapanen, and Andersen, this trade is at least partially responsible for making the Leafs bad enough to finish last and draft Auston Matthews.

The Leafs were happy with Kapanen who eventually became an important part of their roster. His best season was 2018-2019, at age 22, when he played 78 games. He recorded 20 goals (17 of them were scored at even strength) and 24 assists for a total of 44 points.

Last August, Kapanen was returned to the Penguins after a disappointing season in which he failed to score much with ample time on the Leafs star scoring lines, and rated out as roughly a replacement player.

He was shipped to Pittsburgh along with Pontus Aberg and Jesper Lindgren. From this deal, the Leafs received Filip Hallander, Evan Rodrigues, David Warsofsky, and a first-round draft pick in 2020 (the Leafs used the pick to select Rodion Amirov).

The ripples of trading away Kapenen continue to be felt by Toronto. In February this year, the Leafs moved Warsofsky together with Egor Korshkov to the Carolina Hurricanes for the reclamation project of Alex Galchenyuk. Meanwhile, the Leafs chose not to sign Rodrigues and he returned to the Penguins as a free agent.

Hallander was a ranked as the Toronto Maple Leafs ninth best prospect, and they traded him back to the Penguins, along with a seventh rounder in 2023, for Jared McCann. The Leafs then used McCann to avoid losing anyone off their roster (essentially Justin Holl) in the Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft.

This past season, Kapanen had a great year, causing some to question the Leafs wisdom in trading him.  Kapanen posted 11 goals and 30 points in 40 games, including scoring at the rate of  2.9 points per 60 minutes, which is first line production.  This offensive breakout for Kapanen is nice for the Penguins who paid a huge price to acquire him, but it should be noted that it came in a year when Kapanen’s on-ice and individual shooting percentages were much higher than his career averages. (All stats

Excepting his rookie year, Kapanen actually had the lowest expected-goals of his career last year, so there should be, at the very least, a healthy skepticism about if he can repeat his performance.  On the other hand, the Leafs have a really nice prospect in Amirov and a solid #4 right-handed 6’4 monster of a defenseman in Justin Holl, who’s value is likely doubled after the contracts and trades handed out to mediocre defenseman in the current free agent period.

Comparing Petr Mrazek and Freddie Andersen. dark. Next

Time will tell what Kapanen still has in store for his career. At age 25, the best may still be yet to come, but the Leafs probably shouldn’t regret trading him.