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Kasperi Kapanen injured just as promotion speculation was heating up

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He was hit behind the opposing net in a recent game.

Tampa Bay Lightning v Toronto Maple Leafs

Last year, the Leafs traded a few players at the deadline, and then called up a lot of players who’d spent the year on the Marlies. Fans were hungry for new blood on the Leafs, starving even, and the Leafs provided.

Leafs call-ups 2015-16

Name Games Played in 2015-16
Name Games Played in 2015-16
Stuart Percy 3
Sam Carrick 3
Viktor Loov 4
Tobias Lindberg 6
Brendan Leipsic 6
Connor Brown 7
Frederik Gauthier 7
T.J. Brennan 7
Kasperi Kapanen 9
Rinat Valiev 10
Nikita Soshnikov 11
Josh Leivo 12
Connor Carrick 16
Zach Hyman 16
Garret Sparks 17
William Nylander 22

Some of those players are on the Leafs, some are not with the organization anymore, and some are still Marlies. None has been looked at with more expectation than Kasperi Kapanen.

But given the Leafs roster this season and the moribund trade market, is it really reasonable to expect rookie promotions? As of today, the Leafs are back in a playoff spot, one they don’t have a firm grip on. That does not seem to be the moment when you start calling up prospects to have a look.

But in time, if the Leafs suffer from injuries or if they do move anyone at the trade deadline, they might be looking for someone to call up, once they’ve utilized Josh Leivo and Frank Corrado, that is.

The assumption seemed to be out there that Kapanen was due any minute for a call-up.

Now it’s not clear how long he will be out of the Marlies lineup, forget the Leafs.

The injury happened in Friday’s road game versus the Syracuse Crunch. Crunch by name, crunch by nature. Jake Dotchin, a 22-year-old low-point defenceman who had 120 penalty minutes in only 67 games last year, took Kapanen out at about hip height against the boards behind the Crunch net.

Kapanen left the ice favouring one leg, never came back, and Sheldon Keefe said after that game that he assumed Kapanen would be out for the Saturday home game. He was right, and after Saturday’s game Keefe told reporters that Kapanen had just seen the team doctors that day and he hadn’t gotten an update from them but that they were expecting it to be a “lengthy recovery”.

As is natural, hungry fan and media attention will turn to Brendan Leipsic. He is a natural left-wing who only rarely plays on the right side, the exact opposite of Kapanen. Leivo, the man partially blocking both of them on the promotion ladder is a right-shooting left-winger who sometimes plays right wing.

Corrado is also due to come back to the Leafs, as his conditioning stint runs out before the Marlies play another game.

The Marlies recalled Eric Faille today from the Orlando Solar Bears. Faille is a right-shooting winger who had 10 points in 15 games for the team last year. This year, he has 16 goals and 26 assists in 36 games for the Solar Bears. He was pointless in his one outing for the Marlies so far.

H/T to Leafs Hub, they tell me that Tobias Lindberg was also injured in the Saturday game, so Faille is very much needed if that’s going to put him out of action for even a few games.

UPDATED:

In a plot twist no one saw coming, Jake Dotchin has been called up to the NHL:

Isn’t that fantastic? If he plays, he’ll make his NHL debut, and get there before Kapanen does this year.

More updates!

Dotchin has not played yet. He was likely there as a message being sent to his teammates to be more truculent. Tampa lost to the Ducks.

Other reporters say there is a boot on his foot too, so that, given the play, sounds like an ankle injury, and not a speedy recovery.