The Pittsburgh Penguins have placed forward Kasperi Kapanen on waivers Friday. Earlier in the afternoon, coach Mike Sullivan said of Kapanen’s absence from practice: “Hexy informed me before practice that he was held out because he’s going to go on waivers here this afternoon.” That happened and it will be intriguing to see if anyone claims the forward. He has had an underwhelming season and has another year remaining on the deal that pays him $3.2 million. It seems unlikely.
Sullivan added, “When a team doesn’t live up to expectations, change is inevitable – that’s part of it. Kappy is a really talented player. To a certain extent, it’s on all of us because we didn’t find a way to maximize his potential.”
Despite the Kapanen news, it doesn’t sound like the coach is ready to pack in the season. The Penguins got served a dose of reality on Thursday night in an ugly 7-2 loss to the Oilers, but there’s still an appetite to add ahead of this season’s deadline. The talk is that Sullivan is pitching to GM Ron Hextall that he go out and try to acquire Jokb Chychrun from the Arizona Coyotes.
Rob Rossi of The Athletic says that Hextall has made it clear he won’t mortgage the future to add the defenseman. He writes, “… the Coyotes have asked the Penguins to include 2025 and 2026 first-round draft choices as part of any package, according to two team sources briefed on Hextall’s thinking.” He adds, “Hextall has told Penguins personnel that his preference is to not surrender any future first-round picks in potential moves before or at the trade deadline, the sources said.”
That means two firsts are out of the question and it leaves the Penguins in an intriguing position. They have players like Kapanen that they want to get rid of, but few teams will want to take on his bloated contract. At the same time, the team has a desire to add but a GM who isn’t willing to surrender much in the way of draft capital to do it. All the while, the coach is seemingly growing frustrated that his window to win with the older players he has on his team is closing.
And, even if the Penguins were able to clear out Kapanen and add Chychrun, do these moves alone get them where they need to be? Probably not.
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