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Penguins Sign Kapanen to Two-Year Extension to Avoid Arbitration

The Pittsburgh Penguins have agreed to terms with forward Kasperi Kapanen on a two-year contract extension, avoiding arbitration.

Another restricted free agent avoids arbitration. 

The Pittsburgh Penguins opted to avoid any unpleasant future conversations with one of their young forwards on Thursday morning, agreeing to terms with Kasperi Kapanen on a two-year contract extension worth an average annual value of $3.2 million. 

The deal, which now ties Kapanen to Pittsburgh through the 2023-24 season, features the exact same yearly cap hit that his previous contract did, which Kapanen signed as a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs back in 2019. 

It's a risky sum to pay a player that the organization had seemingly soured on by the end of last season. 

Honestly, Kapanen might be the most frustrating player in hockey. The talent is there. It always has been, as the former first-rounder has shown glimpses of the scoring touch that made him a hot commodity back in 2020, while also evolving into a terrific penalty killer throughout his time in Toronto. 

But Kapanen is also the king of bad habits, restricting his game into a predictable rhythm that opposing defenders figure out in one shift and neutralize until the final horn.

The 32 points Kapanen scored in 2021-22 might seem perfectly decent on paper. But they're infuriating when compared to what he could produce if he just evolved his game even a little bit.

Back in the summer of 2020, rumblings about Kapanen's off-ice maturity issues as a Maple Leaf surfaced before the club shipped him back to Pittsburgh. Three years later, those rumblings started up again, with Penguins' management reportedly growing frustrated with Kapanen as the season wore on before eventually demonstrating their angst by handing him a few health scratches down the final stretch.

With this deal, the Penguins are now slightly over the salary cap as the calendar flips to August and will need to either move someone out or send a player down in order to be compliant by the start of the regular season. 

For a player with Kapanen's track record, that's a dicey decision to make.  



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