On Monday, the Pittsburgh Penguins decided to take Kasperi Kapanen from the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Cost was this year’s first-round pick (No. 15 overall).
Forward Evan Rodrigues, hopeful Filip Hallander and emergency defender David Warsofsky were also part of the deal. Coming to Pittsburgh with Kapanen are right-hander Jesper Lindgren and forward-mate Pontus Aberg.
Some Penguins fans weren’t exactly thrilled with the deal. I typed the letters “GMJR” into a search on Twitter at 4pm Tuesday, and that’s what I got.
GMJR is on his own and makes sure we never fight for a cup again.
– John (@ JGor492) August 25, 2020
I hope it’s Mario at GMJR’s door when he hears they trade a 1st round pick… pic.twitter.com/JnlakGMgdY
– Stone Cold Sid (@StoneColdSid) 25 août 2020
every move used by gmjr looked like a calculated chess move
but over the past few years every move he makes has everyone like pic.twitter.com/cM8FD549Qn
– Penguins Jesus (@PenguinsJesus) 25 août 2020
Maybe GMJR is ready to cancel any trades it has already made. We’re getting James Neal back!
– Jey Bag f Dnuts (@joeybagovdonuts) August 25, 2020
I know GMJR is trying to keep the squad busy over the last few elite years Sid, Geno and Tangier.
But such a mundane pool of prospects will certainly catch up with us in a few years.
– The Penguin Brain (@PenguinBrain) 25 août 2020
It’s a pretty fair representation of the reaction I’ve seen overall. Not a lot of love or benefit of the doubt out of the trade for general manager Jim Rutherford.
However, I didn’t see much backlash in Kapanen. He was a player many Penguins fans hated to see leaving the profession that brought Phil Kessel to Pittsburgh ahead of the 2015-16 season. In 69 regular season games this year, Kapanen has 36 points (13 goals, 23 assists). That was down from the 44 points and 20 goals he scored the previous season.
Perhaps, however, Kapanen can rediscover some of that one-off production if he plays with Sidney Crosby. He could be a better partner for Crosby and Jake Guentzel than Conor Sheary or Dominik Simon.
If Bryan Rust is traded, maybe Kapanen stamps that start on Evgeni Malkin’s line given his skating and killing ability. Or maybe Rust stays. And, given his speed, Kapanen provides a Carl Hagelin element to a third row that needs to be completely rebuilt anyway.
So despite a self-proclaimed ‘sophomore crisis’ in 2020, there is reason to hope Kapanen can become the player the Penguins thought they had when they drafted him 22nd overall in 2014.
It was not the acquired player who upset Penguins fans. And Kapanen’s return to the franchise is certainly not what troubles me either. There are a lot of other things around the chord itself that make you scratch your head.
This will now be the sixth time in the past eight years that the Penguins haven’t made a first-round pick. At a time when their prospect ranks are thin. At a time when the construction of the post Crosby-Malkin era is looming.
In a supposedly deep year. In a year where the club decided to keep the No.15 pick instead of giving it to the Minnesota Wild as a refund for the Jason Zucker deal.
So now they won’t have a first round in 2021 either.
Is Kapanen just another version of Dominik Kahun? If so, look what happened to Kahun. In other words, look at what happened to Olli Maatta.
Kahun was traded to Pittsburgh from Chicago for Maatta last year. They got 27 points in 50 games from him, never exactly determining his best role or best ability. Then he was treated for Sheary and Rodrigues. The net of this trade has therefore effectively been erased.
Not to mention, Rodrigues was rumored to be a candidate for at least fourth-row minutes this year. And Hallander was one of the few hopes of system power that could have been prepared as a replacement for Patric Hornqvist.
As for the rest of the package with Kapanen? Lindgren could have the potential to be a second or third pair defenseman in the NHL. And Aberg did that to Maatta before in the 2017 Stanley Cup Final while he was with the Nashville Predators.
SOFT PURPOSE ALERT
Pontus Aberg gives the Preds a 1-0 lead https://t.co/qFRhwbYdRF pic.twitter.com/6SLA6RrHF3
– SI NHL (@SI_NHL) June 1, 2017
Sadly, Aberg has only had a total of 16 goals since then, split between four different teams.
Sorry, Olli. I had to.
So consider me lukewarm at best on this one. I just hope Kapanen is that good, none of the other stuff matters.
Joe Bartnick from Bethel Park joins me on the podcast Wednesday. He is much more optimistic about the trade than I am.
When he’s not taking his national comedy number on the road, Bartnick hosts the “Puck Off” podcast. He also writes for Pro Hockey News. And he appears regularly during the hockey season on WDVE.
After discussing the trade, Bartnick and I have the pain of watching the Pens get knocked out so early in the 2020 playoffs, our hope of a possible loss to the Philadelphia Flyers, and Joe’s newfound affinity for the Avalanche. from Colorado.
Additionally, we discuss the life of a comedian during a pandemic.
Listen: Tim Benz and Joe Bartnick discuss the penguin trade for Kasperi Kapanen and its impact on the team
Tim Benz is a writer for Tribune-Review. You can contact Tim at [email protected] or via Twitter. All tweets could be reposted. All emails are subject to publication, unless otherwise specified.
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