After months of hot rumors and speculation, the Toronto Maple Leafs have actually traded their friendly neighborhood speedy winger – Kasperi Kapanen.
Kapanen figures to be the first domino to fall as management begins their offseason quest to find a roster capable of surpassing the first round.
In short, this trade looks like a big win for the Leafs as they have successfully freed up $3.2M in cap space while also receiving a legitimate prospect at center (Filip Hallander) and a 2020 first-round pick (15th overall) in the process.
Hallander is a very intriguing prospect, especially given the organization’s lack of depth down the middle. The young Swede just turned 20 years old this past June and was the Penguins’ second-round pick (58th overall) in 2018.
Hallander was on the golf course when he found about the trade. He’s a true Leaf already.
— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) August 25, 2020
His calling cards appear to be work ethic and three-zone play. Scouts have especially been impressed by the way he forechecks and backchecks so perhaps he will bring the ‘heart’ Leaf fans keep praying for.
Toronto also managed to alleviate some of the pain from the Patrick Marleau trade by acquiring another 2020 first-rounder. This is certainly an interesting draft to pick 15th since the depth of the 2020 prospect pool is legitimate.
There are a few different needs that could be filled at this spot, including the addition of a big right-handed defenseman (Braden Schneider/Helge Grans) or perhaps a potential franchise-altering goalie (Yaroslav Askarov).
Schneider stands at 6’2 and would bring a combination of size and skill that the Leafs’ blueline currently lacks. Grans checks in at 6’3 and is well-known for his smooth skating and solid two-way play. Naturally, both would be a welcome addition.
At 18 years old, Askarov has already developed a solid reputation as a consistent, positionally-sound goaltender. Taking a goalie in the first round always comes with risk, but the Omsk-native seems to be one of the safer selections in recent memory.
If the Leafs somehow get Askarov at 15…. pic.twitter.com/noqLqKFeKz
— tristan mani (@Tristan_Mani) August 25, 2020
Rodrigues is now 27 years old and has seemingly maximized his potential as a bottom-six forward. His best season came in 2017-18 when he posted 7 goals and 25 points in 48 games. His possession metrics are reasonably decent and he’s also a Toronto native, in case that means something to you.
Warsofsky hasn’t played an NHL game since 2017-18 and is the definition of a fringe depth piece, but he has one year left on his deal ($700K) and could be a good veteran presence for the Toronto Marlies.
The pieces going back to Pittsburgh, apart from Kapanen, include Jesper Lindgren (a 23-year-old right-handed defenseman drafted in the fourth round in 2015) and Pontus Aberg (a 26-year-old fringe winger). Neither are losses that will likely impact the organization.
After all of the criticism stemming from the Nazem Kadri trade, GM Kyle Dubas needed to win a transaction and the value of the returning assets looks very promising so far.
Last offseason, Dubas moved a 1st (now 13th overall) to get rid of the Marleau deal because otherwise, teams wanted Kap or AJ to take on Marleau.
A year later, he moves Kapanen for 15th overall.
— bobby cappucino (@bobbycappucino) August 25, 2020