Plans to get ex-Leaf Kasperi Kapanen right to work on Pittsburgh’s top line with Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel have been snagged by an immigration issue. GM Jim Rutherford says Kapanen is stuck in Finland, then must quarantine a week in the U.S.
— Lance Hornby (@sunhornby) January 2, 2021
Kasperi Kapanen to Miss Opening Night
The Pittsburgh Penguins gave up a hefty trade package to bring Kapanen into the organization. In exchange for Hallander, Evan Rodrigues, David Warsofsky and a first-round draft choice, they expected him to be an integral part of their offence. The forward has spent his career with Toronto Maple Leafs thus far and put up 36 points in 69 games last season.
On a Penguins roster that has seen better days, he should be a key piece of their top line. This means an increased role than he had with Toronto and lofty expectations. Playing with Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel, he should see an increase in offensive output. Until Kaspanen can make his way to Pittsburgh, they will have to look for other options on the top line. Candidates to replace him include Jason Zucker and Bryan Rust.
What it Means
COVID-19 has caused problems for nearly every NHL franchise. This is the first time a player will miss games because of it. While Kapanen could make it back to North America in time for opening night, the mandatory quarantine would prevent him from participating. As we near the season, we are sure to see more situations similar to this one. We can only hope to avoid them moving forward. The NHL has taken measures to prevent the spread of the virus. Only time will tell if they will be effective.