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Penguins sign Kasperi Kapanen to two-year contract, for surprising amount

The Pens avoid arbitration with their mercurial winger

Montreal Canadiens v Pittsburgh Penguins Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images

As first seen on Puck Pedia, the Pittsburgh Penguins are expected to have signed Kasperi Kapanen to a two-year contract with the exact same cap hit as he previously played under, $3.2 million.

The official announcement has not been made yet but details were confirmed by The Athletic’s Rob Rossi, among others.

It’s a very curious move for the Penguins, who sign this early to avoid arbitration with Kapanen and get him under contract. The cap hit is generous for a team that doesn’t need scoring line right wingers with Bryan Rust and Rickard Rakell in the fold for the long-term.

Then again, Kapanen wasn’t much of a scoring winger with only four goals in the last 56 games he played in a frustrating season.

Kapanen has had a history of up and down season performances, in 2020-21 his finishing was high and he scored 30 points in 40 games. His problem in 2021-22 wasn’t just a cold streak or bad luck, it was not playing the game the right way and performing at a level where success would be possible.

It made for a season of high hopes at the start but continual low points. In training camp, Sullivan gushed over Kapanen in ways he usually doesn’t praise players.

The sky is the limit for his game. Kappy has the ability to be an elite player. He’s one of the fastest skaters we have, he has great offensive instincts... We think there’s another level to his game, and we’re going to try to help him get there

Kapanen didn’t come close to finding that new level, at least in a positive sense. He was often-benched and demoted from scoring lines during games and even a healthy scratch.

But Sullivan and the Pens’ management clearly see a lot of talent and potential existing in Kapanen, who maintains a skill set and skating ability that continues to tantalize the Penguins on what could be next.