While William Nylander sits on the sidelines waiting for a new contract, Kasperi Kapanen may be driving up the value of his own second NHL contract.
Kapanen has been thriving in a prime role for the Toronto Maple Leafs early on, collecting four goals and four assists through the first seven affairs, with his team earning wins in six of those games.
“It’s a small sample size,” noted Darren Dreger during a longer Leafs Lunch discussion Tuesday afternoon on Toronto’s TSN 1050. “So let’s see what he looks like at the 20-game mark, and by then we should have a better read, shouldn’t we, on what is up with William Nylander.
“The good part of this is we’re having a hockey conversation. The bad part of this is we’ve got to take it into the business community because Kasperi Kapanen is making money every time he scores a goal or he produces some offense, or, again, continues to display that growing chemistry with Auston Matthews.
“... Just doing some basic math in talking to some agent contacts, some NHL team contacts that I have - what’s Kasperi Kapanen going to get at the end of the year. Again, we’ve forgotten pieces along the path of the salary cap of the Toronto Maple Leafs because we’re lured by the big boys - Matthews, Marner, Nylander obviously with the stalemate ongoing.
“The basic comparison I got was Elias Lindholm of the Calgary Flames, the comparison to Kasperi Kapanen. And Lindholm signed a six-year extension in Calgary at just under $5 million.
“You’re squeezing those contracts into the Toronto Maple Leafs’ future, somebody is going to have to go. It doesn’t have to be Nylander. It doesn’t have to be Kapanen. But it’s going to have to be someone, and I don’t think just letting Jake Gardiner walk is going to be enough.”
Gardiner is in the final year of a contract that carries a $4.05 million cap, on which the defenseman will be due a raise.
The Lindholm extension to which Dreger alluded has a cap hit of $4.85 million, and was signed over the summer following the forward’s trade from the Carolina Hurricanes to the Flames.
That was Lindholm’s third contract though, which was preceded by a two-year bridge deal worth a total of $5.4 million.
Kapanen will be coming out of his entry-level pact following this season, which is the same position in which Nylander currently finds himself with the Leafs.
Contract-related info via CapFriendly