On Tuesday morning, the Toronto Maple Leafs traded Kasperi Kapanen, Jesper Lindgren and Pontus Aberg to the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for Filip Hallander, Evan Rodrigues, David Warsofsky and the 15th overall selection in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft.
The Penguins Receive: A 24-year-old, speed-driven winger in Kapanen who the team knows well. In fact, Kapanen is one of just two players that the Penguins have selected in the first round over the last eight drafts.
They also grabbed 23-year-old right-shot defender, Lindgren who provides some puck-moving upside in a depth role. As well as Aberg who has become an elite AHL producer who could find lightning in a bottle if put in a swell spot in Pittsburgh.
The key to this one is Kapanen though. Pittsburgh is betting – and betting big, that he's on the cusp of breaking out and could complement one of the big two pivots. We saw a similar thing happen in Minnesota of late with Kevin Fiala turning from underachiever to potential superstar after being dealt.
Make no mistake, though, this is a big swing.
The Maple Leafs Receive: A whole heck of a lot for a player that was eating up precious cap space down the lineup. The 15th overall selection in 2020 is juicy – especially since Toronto gave their own pick to Carolina in exchange for cap relief victim, Patrick Marleau. There will be a handful of intriguing players in that range that offer longterm upside.
Additionally, Filip Hallander is no slouch himself. The 2018 second-round pick is a quality two-way pivot who performed quite well in his second full season in the SHL. He boasts a strong bet to be a middle-six, swiss-army-knife type of guy. It'll be more difficult to crack the Leafs' lineup than the Pens when he decides to cross the pond though.