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Metropolitan Division (NHL)

Penguins, Leafs Make Big Trade

Kasperi Kapanen. Photo by Nick Barden. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/deed.en

Even with the postseason still going on in the bubble, General Manager Jim Rutherford decided to make a trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs. He acquired Kasperi Kapanen, Jesper Lindgren, and Pontus Aberg for a 2020 first-round pick (15th overall), Evan Rodrigues, Filip Hallander, and David Warsofsky. 

This is the start of an interesting offseason for these franchises, who were both eliminated in the Qualifying Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Having traded Kapanen, Leafs General Manager Kyle Dubas could now consider moving on from others such as Auston Matthews, Mitchell Marner, John Tavares, and/or William Nylander. 

Kasperi Kapanen is only 24 years old. He was originally drafted 22nd overall in the first-round of the 2014 NHL Draft by Pittsburgh. He was a part of the Phil Kessel trade back in 2015 and now cycles back to the Penguins. Kessel helped Pittsburgh win back-to-back Stanley Cups. 

In 69 games played with the Maple Leafs last season, Kasperi Kapanen scored 13 goals and recorded 23 assists. His plus/minus rating was even. Expect him to potentially be on the top line with Jake Guentzel and Sidney Crosby next season. 

Jesper Lindgren is only 23 years old. He is a right-handed defenseman. Lindgren played in 31 games last season with the Toronto Marlies in the AHL. Lindgren only scored one goal and recorded eight assists. His plus/minus was 5. This move seems part of Jim Rutherford’s effort to overhaul the depth on defense with young prospects still in the fold. Pierre-Oliver Joseph could potentially crack the roster next season. The Pens also just signed two other right-handed young defenseman in Josh Maniscalco from Arizona State University and also Luke Stevens from Yale University.

Pontus Aberg is only 26 years old. He was the 37th overall pick (second-round selection) in the 2012 NHL Draft by the Nashville Predators. Aberg played in five games last season with the Maple Leafs recording one assist with a plus/minus rating of even.

The 27 year old Rodrigues is from the Toronto, Ontario, area, and gets to return home. Evan Rodrigues played with the Buffalo Sabres and the Pittsburgh Penguins last season. In 45 games played last season, he scored six goals and recorded four assists. His plus/minus was -8.  

Hallander is only 20 years old playing center. He was the 58th overall pick (second-round selection) in the second-round of the 2018 NHL Draft. In 27 games played this past season with the Lulea SweHL, Filip Hallander scored five goals and recorded nine assists. His plus/minus was 8. He was one of the better prospects in the Pittsburgh Penguins pool and it came as a surprise that General Manager Jim Rutherford traded him.

David Warsofsky played in the AHL last season with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins playing in 51 games. Warsofsky scored 10 goals and recorded 23 assists. His plus/minus was -33.

This is only the beginning of moves this offseason. Expect names like Kris Letang, Evgeni Malkin, Patric Hornqvist, Jared McCann, Nick Bjugstad, Jack Johnson, Matt Murray, and Tristan Jarry to either be moved or at least mentioned in trade talks as the offseason continues on.

I wasn’t a fan of this trade and it maybe time for the Penguins to move on from General Manager Jim Rutherford. Jason Kamaros, our Assistant General Manager is one option to take over for Rutherford if ownership does not want to look too far outside the organization for a replacement. I personally believe it is time for them to find someone else before he ruins this team like he did with the Carolina Hurricanes.

Rutherford may regret trading that draft pick as this is the highest pick Pittsburgh has had in years. Obviously, the team needs youth and depth but that pick could have been a big part of the retooling.

We shall see what the rest of this offseason holds for Pittsburgh hockey fans. Rutherford has lost a lot of favor with the fanbase over the years. We shall see over the coming months how much favor he still has with ownership.

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