TORONTO – On Tuesday, the first major trade of the 2020 NHL restart saw six players and one draft pick exchanged between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Toronto Maple Leafs.
|Pittsburgh Acquires||Toronto Acquires|
|Kasperi Kapanen||2020 1st Round Pick|
|Pontus Aberg||Evan Rodrigues|
|Jesper Lindgren||Flip Hallander|
In his debut for The Sin Bin, new Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins correspondent Bill Manley collaborates with established Toronto Marlies writer Zack Power to break down the trade from an AHL perspective.
PENGUINS BREAKDOWN (BILL MANLEY)
In the Kapanen trade, Pittsburgh is giving up Evan Rodrigues, David Warsofsky, Filip Hallander and a 2020 first round draft pick. From the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton perspective, the only loss here is Warsofsky. Rodrigues played in a whopping seven games for the Penguins and is otherwise unremarkable. It makes sense that the Leafs would be more interested in shoring up their center depth, since they have an abundance of wingers and Rodrigues will be an acceptable fourth line / black ace centerman. Hallander, despite being very highly touted as a prospect, has yet to play a game in North America. The loss of a 2020 first round draft pick stings, but it is anyone’s guess whether a first-rounder would ever spend time in the AHL.
Warsofsky was the captain of the WBS Pens. He was in WBS on his third (!) stint, thanks to Penguins waiver wire thief John Hynes, and clearly well thought of by the team and Pittsburgh management. He is a veteran pro that is a perfect short-term call-up defenseman. He won’t look out of place for a game or two on the bottom pairing. In the AHL, he also was effective on the power play and put up solid points last year for WBS (10G +23A). More importantly for Toronto, he only makes $700,000 against the cap versus Lindgren’s $925,000.
Getting a major asset like Kasperi Kapanen for Pittsburgh at the expense of only one WBS player is a net win for AHL Pens fans that have seen the squad stripped to fuel Pittsburgh’s playoff runs. Jesper Lindgren will be the natural AHL defenseman replacement (although he won’t be replacing any of Warsofsky’s “leadership”), and Pontus Aberg is a potential game-changing talent if he is assigned to WBS. This is a net win for the Penguins.
MAPLE LEAFS BREAKDOWN (ZACK POWER)
This monster of a trade brings ultimately brings only one face (as of now) to the Penguins organization. While Kapanen will be able to bring things to the table for the Penguins, it looks like Aberg and Lindgren won’t be visiting Michael Scott in Scranton or dawning the Steel City.
The headline of this trade is certainly Kapanen, who appeared in 69 Maple Leafs games this year. In that time, Kapanen scored 13 times with 23 helpers. He was drafted 22nd overall in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft by the Pittsburgh Penguins and has never played in a Pens uniform. Kapanen was included in the Phil Kessel trade between Toronto and Pittsburgh in 2015.
In his time with the Maple Leafs, Kapanen drew 90 points.
One player that probably won’t be suiting up in any Penguins uniform is Pontus Aberg. On July 13, Pontus signed with the KHL’s Traktor Chelyabinsk after questions swirled as to why he was left off the Maple Leafs training camp roster. Aberg played in 55 games with the Marlies, scoring 44 points (20 goals, 24 assists). Additionally, Aberg spent only five games with the Maple Leafs, scoring one lone assist.
Aberg was busting to get out of the AHL and had the potential to be one of the best in the league, but couldn’t find the extra drive. When called up to the Maple Leafs with former Marlies Head Coach Sheldon Keefe, he couldn’t find an inch of twine.
With reports of sourness coming from Aberg in Anaheim and less than ideal reports from Toronto, it would be hard to believe he would return to the North American system for the 2020-21 season. If Pittsburgh can fire up a good enough offer for Aberg to stay, I can’t see why he wouldn’t. Otherwise, Aberg’s goose is cooked.
But it’s not like they haven’t already had a good look at him.
This Pontus Aberg goal is beautiful pic.twitter.com/laBnrOekcR
— Michael (@TheLeafsIMO) July 25, 2019
During the 2019-20 regular season, Marlies Coach Greg Moore told The Sin Bin that he had no prior knowledge that Aberg, Richard Clune, and Miikka Salomaki had ever played together and saw no reason to put him with his former teammates.
Meanwhile, Lindgren played four games in the 2020 playoffs for the Toronto Maple Leafs and most likely won’t suit up for any Penguins team, either. Lindgren was loaned to MODO in Sweden’s second-tier league HockeyAllsvenskan back in early August. With a cap hit at $775,833, Lindgren is expected to play the final year of his contract in the SHL, and most likely won’t return to the NHL or AHL for the 2020-21 season.
The big thing about this case is the wording. This loan is a loan for the full season. If the said season goes ahead, you may not see Lindgren in a Penguins jersey. After playing for over a calendar year straight, returning to a new team is something that I could not foresee happening, (especially considering he played with MODO as a teenager).
The trade carries a cap hit of 3.2 million (AAV) for the Penguins, which solves a much-needed cap space issue for the Toronto Maple Leafs.