Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan went on the Penguins team podcast (The Scoop) to talk about his team for the upcoming season. In the episode, he revealed that he will be starting newly-acquired right winger Kasperi Kapanen on the first line next to Sidney Crosby and LW Jake Guentzel. The two have made a super-Mark Donk duo and Sullivan is hoping Kapanen will be a positive complimentary part of the line.
“We think he brings that speed dimension that I think is complementary to Sid and Jake’s game,” Sullivan told The Scoop podcast. “And he’s shown the ability to finish. He’s scored 20 goals in this league (2018-19). He has elite speed, he has good size, so he brings a size dimension (6-foot-1, 194 pounds) to that line as well. So when we play in games that tend to be heavy in nature, I think [Kapanen is] a guy who can help us in that capacity. We think his skill set could potentially be very complementary to Sid and Jake.” [NHL dot com]
Getting into the quote a little bit, Sullivan points out Kapanen’s speed, which is definitely his defining quality. Kapanen is a great skater, with blistering transition ability. However, the issue the Leafs (and fans) ran into was the imaginary wall looking like the front of the net that Kapanen would button hook in front of on breakaways. He has the speed, but he needs someone to finish it for him. That was where things fell apart for the Leafs, as they didn’t want him in their top-six and couldn’t help him on a third line that was quickly moving away from a top-nine into a bottom-six role.
Speaking of finishing, Sullivan then brought up Kapanen’s finishing ability, noting that he scored 20 goals next to Auston Matthews (and Nazem Kadri). Crosby is definitely someone that will be able to make the most of Kapanen’s raw abilities; throwing him the puck in front of the net and finishing as a secondary attacker off the rush. Guentzel is also a quick player who should be able to keep up with Kapanen when he goes off ahead of the rest.
Another aspect to Kapanen’s offensive ability is his play when possession is settled in the offensive zone. Kapanen tends to disappear and be less effective when he has to cycle around the offensive zone and gets shots off against a set defense. With Crosby, Kapanen will definitely have to go up against the best of the best in this regard every night, this is not something he’s done before in his career. The boys on the Back to Excited Podcast talked about this when they broke down the trade that sent him back to Pittsburgh for
a first round pick Rodion Amirov, Filip Hallander, and David Warsofsky.
One thing that did develop in Kapanen’s game last season was an instigating, heavy presence on the ice. Kapanen wasn’t scoring at all, so he decided to focus his game on hitting players, pissing them off, and occasionally fighting. This is something we saw out of Kadri when he wasn’t scoring and months away from being traded. And now that I think of it, we also saw this out of Connor Brown when he wasn’t scoring and months away from being traded.
If the Penguins can get this part of Kapanen’s game without losing the offensive production, that’s a big positive for them. However, I worry with Kapanen, you’ll only ever get one or the other. It’s the classic hockey trope of making yourself useful someway somehow. We constantly look for players who can do both, but it’s rare to find players where both qualities are working at the same time.
Good luck in Pittsburgh, Kappy, but we’ll definitely take the compensation we got in this trade instead.
The NHL and Adidas are revealing their Reverse Retro jerseys this weekend, starting with the Pacific Division on Thursday (it took me until writing this that I realized they were releasing them all by division).
Each team in the Pacific has some nice close ups of their jerseys on their Twitter account, but Adidas has them all in two tweets so I chose to just share that instead.
Leafs fans were tweeting the Leafs account hoping for any clues towards their new jersey. They were met with coye restraint. Sunday, guys, they’ll be shown on Sunday!
Patience— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) November 12, 2020
Which Pacific Reverse Retro jersey is your favourite? *nicknames made up by me
This poll is closed
Anaheim Mighty Ducks
Calgary Flames After Dark
Edmonton Still Orange and Blue
Los Angeles Lakers
San Jose Owen Nolans
Vancouver Hockey Sticks
Vegas Red Knights
Guys, it happened again.
No one wants to confirm it, but the NHL is all but going to have to create a Canadian Division for at least the start of the 2020-21 season. What’s your prediction of how the division would pan out?
Shawn Ferris wrote this really insightful analysis of the Leafs penalty kill from last year. The conversion percentage was terrible, but the shot volume and quality rates weren’t the issue, neither was the goalie, so what happened?