Blues claim Kasperi Kapanen from waivers Why St Louis picked

Blues claim Kasperi Kapanen from waivers: Why St. Louis picked him – The Athletic

The St. Louis Blues called out forward Kasperi Kapanen a day after the Pittsburgh Penguins put him on a layoff, the team said on Saturday. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Kapanen, 26, has seven goals and 13 assists in 43 games this season.
  • Kapanen is eligible to play for St. Louis against Seattle on Tuesday.
  • The Athletic reported earlier this season that the Penguins bought Kapanen, who Pittsburgh signed to a two-year deal last summer with a $3.2 million cap-hit.

The Athletic’s instant analysis:

Why did the blues pick him up?

The Blues are in the process of reshuffling their roster and needed a bottom-six forward with speed and skill, and Kapanen owns that. Ivan Barbashev is expected to be traded before the March 3 deadline, making Nikita Alexandrov, Nathan Walker, Jake Neighbors, Logan Brown (limited 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 steadfastness Blues coach Craig Berube demands of his players? They had too many players in the last squads who weren’t ready to go inside, so there was a lot of turnover in the third and fourth rows. It will be interesting to see if Kapanen, who is a perimeter player, suits Berube’s style of play. He was also quite inconsistent, and the Blues had a lot of that in the bottom six too. — Rutherford

What does this mean for the future of the blues?

Kapanen has one season left on his contract ($3.2 million AAV). With Kapanen one of 15 players signed for 2023-24, the Blues are left with $10.3 million in planned cap space. This won’t really put the Blues out of the race for an expensive forward as they would need to move a defender anyway and, as mentioned, needed a bottom six forward. Timo Meier might not be in the equation as it sounds like San Jose want more than the Blues offers. — Rutherford

Why Kapanen was put on waivers

Giving up waivers to Kapanen was the easiest move GM Ron Hextall could make to clear cap space so defenseman Jan Rutta could return to the lineup for the Penguins this weekend.

It’s also far from a public admission from Hextall that re-signing Kapanen to a two-year, $3.2 million-a-year deal last summer was a blatant mistake. That deal never seemed to make sense, as Sullivan had struggled to get through to Kapanen in two previous seasons, and it was the first indication that Sullivan and Hextall weren’t on the same page.

Hextall had been trying to trade capans since the beginning of this season, but he couldn’t find takers to his liking. Hextall began moving Kapanen in November when Sullivan benched Kapanen for nine of 10 games. —Rossi

Where this leaves Pittsburgh

The Penguins project is said to be $475,000 under the salary cap, with Kapanen being claimed and Rutta returning from LTI. That’s not enough to close a trade, but it’s more than the $18,500 breathing space they had on Friday morning.

They could create some leeway, for example by putting seldom-used defenseman Mark Friedman on waivers to assign him to the AHL. But even that wouldn’t put Pittsburgh in play for a deadline splash — at least not without help. —Rossi

What you say

“It’s a good pick-up, brings speed, has good capabilities,” said Berube in a press conference on Saturday. “I look forward to bringing him here, coaching him and having him as part of the team.”

Hextall detailed Pittsburgh’s decision when speaking to reporters Friday.

“I think two years ago Kap had 30 points in 40 games. He looked like a pretty good player. The feeling was that last year was a pretty bad year and that he would bounce back,” Pittsburgh’s GM said. “He’s still almost a half-points-a-game guy. I think he can be a productive player, unfortunately it didn’t work here. There are tough choices to be made along the way, and that’s exactly what Kappy did.”

required reading

(Photo: Gaelen Morse / USA Today)