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Should the Flyers offer sheet Kasperi Kapanen?

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We make our case for a bit of chaos.

NHL: Toronto Maple Leafs at Philadelphia Flyers Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

We’re just about one month away from the opening of free agency, and this also means we’re a month away from teams being able to get truly diabolical and drop offer sheets on their opponents’ good, young RFAs. Now, we know that GMs are cowards—we haven’t seen an offer sheet since what feels like the dawn of time, and we don’t really expect them to be thrown around now. But, that said, this RFA class might just be good enough to sway some GMs to get wild, so we’re going to take some time diving into the realm of pure speculation and look at some potential offer sheet targets for the Flyers.

First up, we’re looking to our friends up north in the Toronto Maple Leafs. With all of these pending free agent contracts looming over them, and the fact that they’re figuring to be squeezed pretty tight against the cap, why not try to steal a player away from them? And what if you don’t go after the big name in Mitch Marner? What if the Flyers were to target a depth player like Kasperi Kapanen?

What’s he done?

Season and Career Stats

Year GP G A P1 P CF% xGF% RelT CF% RelT xGF%
Year GP G A P1 P CF% xGF% RelT CF% RelT xGF%
2018-19 78 20 24 32 44 52.74 51.59 1.19 1.95
Career 133 27 26 40 53 52.48 51.31 1.36 0.42

Kapanen is coming off his first full season with the Leafs, and it was pretty solid. He was able to hit the 20 goal mark and closed out the regular season tied for fifth on the team in scoring. And while consistency has been something of an issue for Kapanen—his scoring dried up some down the stretch—what he has emerged as is a solid play driver. Throughout both this season and his overall career with the Leafs, they’ve been holding an edge in both shot quantity and quality while Kapanen is on the ice. Additionally, he also grades out positively in these same metrics, relative to his teammates. Granted, we are only working with just over a full season’s worth of data, so it is a little limited, but it seems a promising start. He presents as a solid depth player who can bring a bit of extra scoring punch.

How would he fit?

This one is interesting because adding Kapanen would immediately shore up one of the holes that the Flyers have in their roster, that is, the 3RW spot. This would save them from having to go out and sign a bigger free agent, and it would also immediately inject a bit of extra speed into the Flyers’ lineup, something they’re pretty sorely in need of.

The question of how would he fit on that third line, specifically, is an interesting one. If you’re penciling the Flyers’ third line in as Nolan Patrick centering Oskar Lindblom and Kapanen, it would be a little discordant. Even if you swapped out Lindblom for James van Riemsdyk, that isn’t a line that figures to have a ton of speed. They wouldn’t be flat out slow, but they also wouldn’t be able to match the speed that Kapanen brings.

But, on the flip side, the interesting thing about Kapanen’s game is that his play is somewhat independent of his linemates’—that is, he brings pretty much the same game playing top minutes alongside Auston Matthews as he does in more of a depth role. Indeed, the hallmark of his game comes from generating breakaway chances after receiving a breakout pass from one of his defensemen and simply out-skating everyone else. So, that considered, maybe you still find a way to make it work.

The last interesting piece to note is that Kapanen kills penalties in Toronto. And I don’t know if I’d say he’s fantastic at it, but he has been kind of a machine at generating shorthanded chances (15 shot attempts and nine scoring chances on the season). And this also doesn’t guarantee that he would be given the chance to do that in Philly, but it’s something.

What would you have to offer?

It looks like the Leafs would be looking to offer Kapanen somewhere around $3 million in AAV, maybe they would be able to go up to $3.5 million, depending on how the Marner and Johnsson contracts shake out, but that might even be a stretch, so if the Flyers were to offer him around $4 million, the Leafs simply wouldn’t be able to match that. And if Kapanen were to sign the offer sheet, and the Leafs opted to let him go, it would only cost the Flyers a second round pick. Not exactly a hefty price.

Would you pull the trigger?

I want to give this one a tentative yes. Kapanen would fill an immediate need in slotting into the 3RW spot and save the Flyers from potentially having to spend more to bring in a pricier free agent, while also adding that extra bit of speed. My only real qualm would be that I think $4 million per year would be a bit of an overpay for what Kapanen is and would be able to bring to the team (largely a North-South player, and one who shoots, it seems, almost exclusively from the hash-marks on rushes, and who I would like to see mix it up and create something a little more dangerous), but the Flyers do have the cap space to play with, and if they’re able to manage the rest of their contracts well (and assuming we see the expected cap growth in the next few years), having an extra million tied up in a good young player isn’t the end of the world.

All stats via Natural Stat Trick and Corsica.Hockey