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Wednesday FTB: Kasperi Kapanen Keeps Creating Quick and Quality Counters, Caters to Quirky Kinks Completely

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Matthews, Rielly, Tavares and Marner are okay too, I guess

NHL: Toronto Maple Leafs at Chicago Blackhawks Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

How do I love thee Kasperi Kapanen, let me count the ways!

1) Going into last night’s game, he was 2nd on the team in even strength xGF% behind only Martin Marincin (who’s only played in one game).

2) This is because despite playing a fourth line role until partway through last game, he’s been tied for 2nd on the team in total high danger scoring chances.

3) He was second on the team entering last night’s game in CF%, behind only Andreas Johnsson. Johnsson, however, has not been on the ice for half as many scoring chances. Basically, in the moments that Babcock has been trying Kapanen out with other lines following a PK or PP, he’s excelled. Him getting an extended shot with Matthews has not come out of nowhere, and Babcock has clearly been testing those waters going back to the pre-season game that he played with Tavares and Marner.

4) He has four points in his last two games since getting his shot with Matthews, including two assists in last night’s game. With the scoring chances he was already creating, and now regularly playing up in the lineup with more minutes and better linemates, you gotta think he’ll have the chance to put up more.

5) He’s fast and he punks players we don’t like. Seriously, I wrote his T25U25 profile that he has all this promise and all these drool-worthy tools that he just needed to start learning how to use at the NHL level, and in four games he’s been low-key one of the Leafs’ best and most consistent forwards at driving play.

You add up all of the following, and I will be so bold to say screw the small sample size: Kasperi Kapanen is breaking out, and Babcock sees it too. Even when Willy comes back I think Babcock will find ways to get him more ice time at 5 on 5, hopefully with Kadri. Heck, if he does well enough with Matthews maybe Babs puts Nylander with Kadri instead.

I’ve also been dreaming hard on the Leafs signing Rick Nash to a deal partway through or late in the year, and the Leafs running a Nash - Kadri - Kapanen line. YES PLEASE GIVE THAT TO ME!

My hot take is that if he stays healthy for the year, he will score 40+ points. Doesn’t seem like that much of a hot take? Consider that he is currently not getting any PP time. At all. Going into last night’s game he had a grand total of 4 seconds on the power play. He could be like Zach Hyman was last year, but with more finish (Eh? Eh? Ehhhhhhhh?).

ONTO THE LINKS!

Back to Excited Episode 33: System’s got me down | by Arvind and Fulemin

CWHL announces a weekend of games on Sportsnet | by nafio

It’s just one game: backup goalie edition | by Katya

The four reasons why Auston Matthews shooting style continues to baffle goalies | by Justin Bourne at the Athletic

Forget The Captaincy; Auston Matthews Has His Sights On Loftier Goals | by That’s Kappy at TLN

New Toronto Marlies GM Laurence Gilman: “My biggest task is not to screw it up.” | a transcript by MLHS Staff

Poor Connor Carrick... he had a good start with Dallas but he’s missing his board game buddies. I’ll play Catan with you, Connor! But if you steel my sheep I’ll fucking cut you.

BUDS ALL DAY!

Poll

Who has been your biggest pleasant surprise so far this season?

This poll is closed

  • 76%
    Kapanen
    (511 votes)
  • 11%
    Lindholm
    (75 votes)
  • 8%
    Ozhiganov
    (56 votes)
  • 0%
    Ennis
    (6 votes)
  • 2%
    Leivo
    (18 votes)
666 votes total Vote Now