The resumption of the NHL regular season and Stanley Cup Playoffs appears closer after the NHL Players Association Executive Board passed the league’s proposal of a 24-team playoff on Friday, but there are still a few hurdles before players will be able to assemble for an abbreviated training camp and move forward towards the postseason in mid-to-late July. We will continue to provide you with updates on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but we will also report on news specific to the Toronto Maple Leafs and reflect on the club’s season and player performances through 70 games.
Today we continue with the player report card by looking at a couple more of the Leafs forwards:
After reaching the 20-goal plateau for the first time last season, the Leafs signed the speedy winger to a three-year, $9.6 Million bridge deal. With the injury to Zach Hyman and the trade of Patrick Marleau, Toronto hoped that the 23-year-old could handle a move to the opposite wing in the top six, but Kapanen did not appear comfortable on the left side with John Tavares and Mitch Marner.
Only when moved back to his natural position did Kapanen seem comfortable, but with Marner and William Nylander on the top two lines, that relegated the speedster to third-line duty. Kapanen was scratched in February for being late to practice and while nearly matching his assist total from last season in just 69 games, he had only 13 goals and at the time of the pause was again shifted to the left side when Andreas Johnsson was injured.
Grade - B
Similar to Kapanen, the speedy Swede reached the 20-goal mark for the first time last season and the Leafs signed the winger to a four-year, $13.6 Million contract extension after clearing Marleau’s $6.5 Million salary with a trade to Carolina. Johnsson was a good fit on the left side with Matthews and Nylander and played with a bit of feistiness to go along with his ample skill set.
The 25-year-old had 23 points (8 goals, 15 assists) in 43 games, which are good totals for a support player but not someone who often played with the Leafs top center. Johnsson could not avoid the injury, missing 15 games midway through the season with a leg injury and suffering a season-ending knee injury after colliding with Kapanen in mid-February.
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