No, the Canucks shouldn’t claim Kasperi Kapanen. But is there another way to acquire him?
Photo credit:© Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
9 months ago
The Pittsburgh Penguins have put Kasperi Kapanen on waivers and, unsurprisingly, that decision is garnering interest from a few teams’ fanbases.
Kapanen’s eight seasons of NHL experience make him an interesting target for a team short on forwards.
Naturally, when any name-brand player goes on waivers, the Canucks are brought up as an option. Especially when that player is formerly from the same franchise that Jim Rutherford and Patrik Allvin used to run.
That being said, the Canucks should absolutely not claim Kapanen.
Kapanen’s $3.2 million cap hit makes zero sense for the Canucks to take on. The 26-year-old has barely cracked the 30-point mark since being traded from Toronto in 2020, and has been a regular healthy scratch throughout this season.
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Even if Kapanen were to find another level with the Canucks, it wouldn’t justify taking on his cap hit. And while he only has one more season beyond this one left on his two-year deal, there’s little benefit to an actively tanking team to bring him on board.
But maybe there’s another way to make Kapanen’s deal work. Specifically, after he clears waivers.
With the Canucks looking to weaponize their cap space and take on contracts in exchange for draft picks and prospects, Kapanen’s contract presents an interesting alternative to being the third party in a different deal retaining salary.
Instead, perhaps Patrik Allvin could acquire all or part of Kapanen’s deal for draft picks.
After clearing waivers, Kapanen could be left in the AHL to provide additional depth for an Abbotsford team in the heat of the playoff race as others like Phil Di Giuseppe and Linus Karlsson get called up to the NHL team.
After this season, Kapanen would have a single year left on his contract and could battle for a roster spot in training camp next September
With the going rate for NHL players, the Canucks could get quite a bit in taking on Kapanen. In exchange for taking Nikita Zaitsev from the Senators, the Blackhawks were given a 2023 second rounder and a 2026 fourth. The Coyotes got a 2023 fifth round pick from Vegas for acquiring Shea Weber’s contract.
And those were both for players either on LTIR or leaving a team with little to no playoff aspirations. The Penguins are trying to make the postseason and are in desperate need to free up cap space to acquire help. Letting Kapanen sit in the minors would play a far more crucial role in their chances of improving the roster.
For the whole contract, the Canucks might be able to squeeze the Penguins for a second round pick along with an additional late-round choice, similar to the Zaitsev deal. If Vancouver is only willing to take part of the contract and Pittsburgh retains some of it, that return could be bumped down to a third.
Whether or not the Canucks do pull the trigger on a deal of this kind, it represents the type of creative thinking the team should be using to improve their long-term outlook. Kasperi Kapanen may not be the right solution to that assignment, but maybe the next player to pass through the waiver wire will be.
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