The St. Louis Blues claimed forward Kasperi Kapanen a day after the Pittsburgh Penguins placed him on waivers, the team announced Saturday. Here’s what you need to know:
- Kapanen, 26, has seven goals and 13 assists in 43 games this season.
- Kapanen will be eligible to play for St. Louis on Tuesday against Seattle.
- Athleticism reported earlier this season that the Penguins were buying Kapanen, who Pittsburgh signed last summer for two years at a cap of $3.2 million.
AthleticismInstant analysis of:
Why did the Blues pick it up?
The Blues are revamping the roster and needed a forward from the back six with speed and skill, and Kapanen has that. Ivan Barbashev is expected to be traded before the March 3 deadline, which left Nikita Alexandrov, Nathan Walker, Jake Neighbours, Logan Brown (restricted free agent) and Alexey Toropchenko (RFA) as other options for next season. With 364 NHL games, Kapanen also brings experience that this group lacks. — Rutherford
Can Kapanen help the Blues?
That remains to be seen – although he has talent, does Kapanen have the guts that Blues manager Craig Berube demands of his players? They’ve had too many players on recent rosters who weren’t willing to go inside, so there’s been a lot of turnover on the third and fourth lines. It will be interesting to see if Kapanen, who is a perimeter player, fits into Berube’s style of play. Plus, he’s been pretty inconsistent, and the Blues have had plenty of that in the last six as well. — Rutherford
What does it mean for Les Bleus to move forward?
Kapanen still has one season left on his contract ($3.2 million AAV). With Kapanen one of 15 players under contract for 2023-24, that leaves the Blues with $10.3 million in projected cap space. That won’t really take the Blues out of the race for an expensive striker, as they would have to move a defender anyway and, as mentioned, they needed a striker from the bottom six. Timo Meier may be out of the equation, as it looks like San Jose wants more than the Blues are offering. — Rutherford
Why Kapanen was placed on derogation
Kapanen was the simplest move general manager Ron Hextall could make to free up space so defenseman Jan Rutta could return to the lineup this weekend for the Penguins.
It’s also anything but a public admission by Hextall that re-signing Kapanen to a two-year, $3.2 million-a-year deal was a glaring mistake last summer. This deal never seemed to make sense, considering Sullivan had struggled to get to Kapanen in the previous two seasons, and it was the first hint that Sullivan and Hextall weren’t on the same length of business. ‘wave.
Hextall had been trying to trade Kapanen since the start of the season, but he couldn’t find a suitable taker. Hextall began looking to move Kapanen in November, just as Sullivan benched Kapanen for nine out of 10 games. Rossi
Where does this leave Pittsburgh
The Penguins draft will be $475,000 under the salary cap, with Kapanen claimed and Rutta returning from LTI. That’s not enough to make a trade, but it’s more than the $18,500 headroom they had on Friday morning.
They could free up some movement space by, say, putting seldom-used defenseman Mark Friedman on waivers with the intention of reassigning him to the AHL. But even that wouldn’t put Pittsburgh in the game for a deadline day splash — at least not without help. — Rossi
What they say
“It’s a good recovery, brings speed, has good skills,” Berube said at a press conference on Saturday. “I can’t wait to bring him here, coach him and have him in the team.”
Hextall explained Pittsburgh’s decision when speaking with reporters on Friday.
“I think it was two years ago, Kap had 30 points in 40 games. He looked like a very good player. I felt like last year was a bad year and he was going bounce back,” the Pittsburgh general manager said. “He’s still almost a half-point-per-game guy. I think he can be a productive player, unfortunately it didn’t work out here. Tough decisions must be taken along the way and that’s what it was with Kappy.
(Photo: Gaelen Morse/USA Today)