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Here’s what the internet is saying about the Kapanen trade

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Any massive trade will bring plenty of social media reaction along with it and the Kapanen trade was no exception.

NHL: Toronto Maple Leafs at Pittsburgh Penguins Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

On Tuesday, the Penguins made their first big move of the offseason by making a huge trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Coming over to Pittsburgh was former Penguins draft pick (and Phil Kessel trade piece) Kasperi Kapanen along with two others. Going to Toronto was the Penguins 2020 first round draft pick and three players.

When news first broke about Kapanen being on the move to Pittsburgh, rumors immediately started to swirl about who was going the other way. Was it one of the goalies? Nick Bjugstad? Jared McCann? There was even a tweeted rumor that Jack Johnson was involved but it was quickly deleted.

In the end, the two biggest pieces were Kapanen to the Penguins and the first round pick heading north to Toronto. As with most NHL trades, social media reaction was swift to react with everyone putting in their two cents on the deal. Parsing through all the takes can take some time, especially with big trades, but it was clear once the details started coming out that most did not view this trade favorably for the Penguins.

These tweets from our very own Adam Gretz are apart of a larger thread he put together discussing the trade. Check out the whole thing if you get a chance, but his takes on the deal was much more positive than what some people were saying. It seems like Kapanen fits with what the Penguins are trying to do, just targeting him at this time may not make total sense.

Aside from the Penguins first round pick going to the Maple Leafs, another notable part of the return package was prospect Filip Hallander. Considered by many to be a top prospect in the Penguins organization, his inclusion along with the first round pick baffled many, including The Athletic writer Jesse Marshall.

Dom Luszczyszyn, also from The Athletic, tweeted his thoughts on the deal and it’s not something Pens fans will be thrilled with. Kapanen was barely a replacement level player in 2019-20 and no where near worth the price Rutherford paid for him.

Again with the ugly replacement level numbers. It’s not that Kapanen can’t help the Penguins lineup, it’s more that they seemed to have way overpaid for a guy who does not come with a cheap price tag.

Once you get past the main pieces of the deal, it appears the other pieces were used more to make the numbers work. As James Mirtle points out, unless the Leafs bring back Rodrigues, this trade essentially boils down to Kapanen in exchange for two futures in the first round pick and Hallander.

As for why a speed team like the Maple Leafs were willing to part with a speed player like Kapanen, Mirtle explains just that.

Although there were issues with Kapanen cracking the top-six in Toronto, Penguins beat writer Josh Yohe figures he will plug right into the Penguins top line alongside Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel.

Yohe makes another important point here as well about the rest of the roster. While the Penguins top two lines are taking shape, nothing is set in stone in regards to the rest of the lineup. We know some players will certainly be returning, but Rutherford is nowhere near done retooling his roster.

While Yohe projects Kapanen to be in the Penguins top-six forward group, there is no guarantee until we see how he plays with those guys on the ice. Kapanen has never been a top-six guy for a consistent period of time at any point in his career and his underlying numbers show him to be a better depth guy.

In above tweet from James Mirtle, he mentioned that he does not think the Leafs will qualify Evan Rodrigues who is set to become a restricted free agent in a few weeks. Just because they don’t qualify him doesn’t mean they can’t still resign him, and if they do, will be replacing Kapanen with a player of near equal performance.

That pick the Penguins gave up to acquire Kapanen? According to Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas, they aren’t dead set on keeping the pick and may use it as leverage to make other moves as the offseason progresses.

As for Rutherford, it’s no secret he wants to make the team younger and faster, and he sees this trade as doing exactly that by bringing in the 24-year old Kapanen. Rutherford also notes that he views Kapanen as a top-six forward.

Last but not least, some words from Kapanen himself on his trade back to Pittsburgh five years after being originally dealt. Seems like nothing but excitement from the player and he says all the right things you would want a new guy to say as he gets ready to bring his style of play to a team who is built to use his skill set.


If you were on social media when this trade was announced, it was quite a whirlwind as pieces began to fall and the entirety of the trade came into view. On the surface, this is definitely a confounding move on the Penguins part, but it also signals they are still in ‘win now’ mode as they try to maximize the Crosby/Malkin era window as much as possible.

Rutherford traded away A LOT of future in this deal, but even the two most noteworthy pieces of this deal (pick + Hallander) are likely not in the NHL picture until after the window is closed. Even knowing that, some may feel Rutherford is needlessly sacrificing the future by moving pieces for less than optimal returns that don’t necessarily make the team all that better in the present.

The truth is, we won’t know the full scale of this trade for many years when those picks and prospects either make it or break it at the NHL level. If Kapanen comes in and helps the Penguins win another Stanley Cup, then much of this will be a distant memory when the new banner hangs from PPG Paints Arena.