After being forced to leave last night’s game against the Nashville Predators with what the team labelled a forearm injury, Kasperi Kapanen is reportedly back at Maple Leafs practice this afternoon, skating in a full-contact jersey.
It’s a rare taste of good news for a team that has received so little of it in the health department this season.
Kasperi Kapanen is skating in a full contact jersey with the Leafs in practice today in Dallas. #LeafsForever— Paul Hendrick (@HennyTweets) January 28, 2020
The thought of Kapanen landing on the shelf for an extended period of time would have proven catastrophic to the Maple Leafs for two main reasons.
Namely, Kapanen is an important member of their active roster, a versatile forward who logs high-leverage minutes on both the top penalty kill and secondary power-play units. Not to mention, Kapanen’s speed is a weapon that few teams can claim to have, with his presence as a perpetual breakaway threat adding an extra dimension to an already vaunted offensive attack.
On the other hand, Kapanen also happens to be the most valuable trade chip the Leafs have to work with at the moment — and it’s not particularly close. Losing him to a multi-game absence with the 2020 trade deadline less than one month away would have significantly altered Kyle Dubas’ plans, likely stripping the bespectacled GM of his most lucrative asset he could use to upgrade his roster.
While the likelihood of Kapanen being shipped out mid-season seems relatively low based on existing reports, when it comes to the pressure cooker of the deadline it’s best to keep all your options open.
For the meantime, at least, Kapanen and the Maple Leafs appear to have dodged a bullet.
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