Earlier this morning the Toronto Maple Leafs traded Kasperi Kapanen and others to the Pittsburgh Penguins for a first-round pick, a prospect and cap space.
It’s a big deal for multiple reasons: first and foremost, it’s the first trade in what should be an interesting offseason around the NHL. Toronto was clearly looking to free up cap space in the deal and did that and then some by acquiring a first-round pick for a third-line scoring winger. It’s truly fine work by Leafs GM Kyle Dubas.
Secondly, it’s a big deal because it in a way it will affect the Edmonton Oilers.
“But Zach! How could that be? Toronto is on the other side of the country, in another conference and division and so is Pittsburgh!” you may be ready to slam into the comment section below, but hear me out.
The truth of the matter is I think Kapanen is a player that the Edmonton Oilers have been targeting for some time as a scoring option. Kapanen isn’t a burner by any means, but he would be an upgrade on what the Oilers currently have for middle-six scoring options.
The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun reported after the deal Tuesday that the OIlers “were aware of Kapanen’s availability” but added he couldn’t see a scenario where the Oilers dealt their 14th overall pick, something Toronto was clearly looking for. Edmonton was right in not paying that price.
Toronto has repeatedly expressed interest in defenceman Adam Larsson, so a deal that surrounded the two, in theory, has made sense for some time. That club is looking for a Larsson-esque defenceman in the shutdown role he plays. The truth is that Kapanen’s cap hit is nearly a million less than that of Larsson all the while Kapanen holds RFA rights. Both of those increase Kapanen’s value beyond what he brings to the ice.
So those, I would imagine, are two big blocks as to why that deal hasn’t taken place anytime in the last year or so. Now with the trade going down today, it’s taken away just one of many options for the Oilers in the NHL trade market, but we’re going to circle back to other trade options between the Oilers and Leafs and why they make sense.
Johnsson is another player who has been linked to the Oilers in the past. At 25, the Swedish forward has three years left on a deal paying him $3.4-million.
Over the last three years, he’s played 125 games scoring 30 goals and 67 points for Toronto averaging 14:15 a night. This past year he saw a boost in ice time to 15:45 and scored 21 points in 43 games.
He suffered a knee injury this year limiting his games, but has shown he can play as a middle-six forward. At 5v5 this past season he posted good underlying numbers with a 53.13 CF%, a 52.08 GF% and an xG% of 51.41 — all solid numbers from Johnsson. He’s seen powerplay time throughout his career, too.
I think a trade surrounding Johnsson+ could still be in the works. Toronto trading Kapanen clears up some cap space which may make a Larsson trade more palatable.
Much like Johnsson, Kerfoot, 26, is another play who has been linked to the Oilers in the past. He’s on a deal with the same three years left and is paid $3.5-million a year.
He was acquired by the Leafs from the Colorado Avalanche last year in the Kadri-Barrie deal and scored 28 points in 65 this past year playing a smidge under 15 minutes a night.
His underlying 5v5 numbers are solid too with a 52.53 CF%, a 48.86 GF%, and an xG% of 52.16. His isolated impacts are a bit better than that of Johnsson, and I like the fact Kerfoot is a centre, albeit a left-shot. He would be an upgrade over Riley Sheahan in the bottom-six and there could be a deal to be had surrounding Larsson.
This one might be a bit out there, but I think there could be a deal to be had between the Oilers-Leafs surrounding Andersen.
He’s entering the fifth-year of a five-year deal paying him $5-million a year. The Leafs may examine a trade where they move on from him this offseason as according to The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun, talks haven’t been underway (yet) between the club and player in regards to a new deal.
Andersen has been a career .917 save percentage goalie who had a down year this season posting a .909 save percentage in 52 games this year. He’s consistently put above-average GSAA numbers. The Athletic’s James Mirtle said Tuesday “I wonder if the Oilers might be a fit given they want to overhaul their goaltending situation, although they’d have to find a way to make Andersen’s cap hit work.”
Moving Larsson for Andersen straight up would see the Oilers take on an additional $833,333 on the cap. That’s pretty manageable.
I think any of these three players could easily end up Edmonton Oilers come the start of the 2020-21 season. Talks have happened in the past and both teams line up as good trade partners on paper.
Edmonton made the right move in not trading 14th overall for Kapanen. That pick is much more valuable in either drafting a future scoring winger, or in a trade for a much better scoring winger now.
It wouldn’t surprise me to see Edmonton be active in the trade market this summer to address some of the clubs’ most prudent needs.
On Twitter: @zjlaing