Kapanen, a 24-year-old forward, scored 36 points (13 goals, 23 assists) in 69 games this season, and had two assists for the Maple Leafs when they lost in five games to the Columbus Blue Jackets in the Stanley Cup Qualifiers. He has 90 points (41 goals, 49 assists) in 202 NHL games, and seven points (four goals, three assists) in 25 postseason games.
“I feel like I’m an energy player,” Kapanen said. “I bring as much energy as I can and do everything I can, really, to help the team. I’m not going to be the biggest goal-scorer, the point-maker. That’s not my job. But just to be a part of the team and do anything possible to help our team win night in and night out is something I’m going to try to do.”
His best NHL season was 2018-19, when he scored 44 points (20 goals, 24 assists) in 78 games. He has two seasons remaining on a three-year, $9.6 million contract ($3.2 million average annual value) he signed with the Maple Leafs on June 28, 2019.
“We wanted the [NHL salary cap] flexibility so we could be flexible inside the marketplace,” Toronto general manager Kyle Dubas said. “It would also be great to accrue cap space so we could make a move within the season.”
Kapanen said he was glad to hear he is being considered to play right wing on one of Pittsburgh’s top two lines, which would give him to chance to skate with centers Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin.
“Even the fact that they think I can be in one of those two spots is a huge honor for me, obviously playing with one of the two better hockey players in the world,” Kapanen said. “It does mean that I kind of have to be hitting the gym soon. Start working hard for next year. I want to be great. I want to come into camp ready to go, show everyone I’m not messing around. So like I said, I’m very excited to be back in Pittsburgh. Excited for this opportunity.”
The Maple Leafs have Mitchell Marner and William Nylander as their top two right wings.
“I don’t think he’s reached his ceiling yet,” Dubas said of Kapanen. “We know we have William and Mitch on the right side and we felt we could deal from that area.”
The Penguins selected Kapanen, the son of former NHL forward Sami Kapanen, in the first round (No. 22) of the 2014 NHL Draft. He was acquired by the Maple Leafs on July 1, 2015, in a trade that sent forward Phil Kessel to the Penguins.
“I think when I was drafted, I was little one-dimensional. I loved to play on offense and with the puck. Everything else was kind of lacking for me, especially to make that hop into the NHL,” Kapanen said. “I got traded to Toronto and they put me through the [American Hockey League] process, which looking back on it now, I’m very grateful for. They turned me into more of a two-way player, which I think has helped me in the long run, for sure. So in that way, I think I played penalty kill for the last three years. Bit more physical. Tried to be more banging. Just more of an all-around person, and a player too. So, older now than I was back then. A lot has changed, for sure.”
By trading the first-round pick this season, the Penguins do not have a pick in the first round until the 2022 NHL Draft. They sent their first-round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft to the Minnesota Wild as part of the trade for forward Jason Zucker on Feb. 10.
Dubas said the Maple Leafs would consider trading the No. 15 pick. The No. 13 pick that would have belonged to them was traded to the Carolina Hurricanes in the offseason deal involving forward Patrick Marleau.
“We’re open to keeping the pick, but the spot we are at with our team right now, we’re also open probably to moving it if the right deal came along for someone who could help us now,” Dubas said.
Aberg, who turns 27 on Sept. 23, had one assist in five games this season with the Maple Leafs, his fifth NHL team. He has 44 points (17 goals, 27 assists) in 132 NHL games with the Maple Leafs, Wild, Anaheim Ducks, Edmonton Oilers and Nashville Predators, who selected him in the second round (No. 37) of the 2012 NHL Draft. Aberg played most of this season with Toronto of the AHL, scoring 44 points (20 goals, 24 assists) in 55 games.
Lindgren was Toronto’s fourth-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft. The 23-year-old scored nine points (one goal, eight assists) in 31 games with Toronto of the AHL this season.
“Kasperi is a good, young player that brings speed to our lineup and plays the way we want to play,” Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford said. “Having previously drafted him, we know him as a player and feel he can improve our top six. Aberg and Lindgren are both young players that will further add to our organizational depth.”
Rodrigues, a 27-year-old who was acquired by the Penguins in a trade with the Buffalo Sabres on Feb. 24, scored one goal in seven games with Pittsburgh after scoring nine points (five goals, four assists) in 38 games with Buffalo. He has 72 points (27 goals, 45 assists) in 199 NHL games and can become a restricted free agent after this season.
Hallander was Pittsburgh’s second-round pick (No. 58) in the 2018 NHL Draft. The 20-year-old scored 14 points (five goals, nine assists) in 27 games for Lulea of the Swedish Hockey League this season.
“He was rated near the top of our board and we selected Sean Durzi that year (second round, No. 52) and Pittsburgh selected Filip right after,” Dubas said. “We had done a lot of work on him leading up to the draft that year.”
Durzi, a defenseman, was traded to the Los Angeles Kings on Jan. 28, 2019 in the deal that brought defenseman Jake Muzzin to Toronto.
Warsofsky has not played in the NHL since 2017-18, when he had five assists in 16 games with the Colorado Avalanche. The 30-year-old, who scored 33 points (10 goals, 23 assists) in 51 games for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the AHL this season, has 11 points (two goals, nine assists) in 55 NHL games with the Boston Bruins, New Jersey Devils, Avalanche and Penguins.
NHL.com independent correspondents Wes Crosby and Dave McCarthy contributed to this report