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Penguins to Put Kapanen on with Crosby, Guentzel to Start Season

The Pittsburgh Penguins are going to give Kasperi Kapanen every opportunity to score, placing him on the top line with Sidney Crosby.

When the Pittsburgh Penguins went out and traded a first-round pick to land Kasperi Kapanen from the Toronto Maple Leafs early in this particularly odd NHL offseason, there was every expectation the team was assuming he’d produce. It sounds like, not only is that an accurate read on the deal, but the team is going to give him every chance to succeed by placing him with one of the best players in the game.

Related: Scribe Notes Date Crosby and Malkin Will Likely Leave Penguins

According to a report on Friday by Tracey Myers, Kapanen will start this season for the Pittsburgh Penguins on the first line with Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel. That information comes straight from coach Mike Sullivan who likes the idea of pairing what Kapenen brings to a duo with a proven track record of production.

Sullivan said during The Scoop podcast, “We think he brings that speed dimension that I think is complementary to Sid and Jake’s game.” He added that Kapanen has shown an ability to score in the NHL and cited his elite speed and good size as reasons to make him the third in that trio. He added:

“So when we play in games that tend to be heavy in nature, I think [Kapanen is] a guy who can help us in that capacity. We think his skill set could potentially be very complementary to Sid and Jake.”

Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford agreed that he believes Kapanen will be a good fit there. He told SiriusXM NHL Network Radio on Oct. 17 that the window is closing for the organization and he wants this team to compete. “We really hope that we’ve got the right chemistry for a line for Sid,” Rutherford said. He added that getting a right winger for that duo was a top priority.

Kasperi Kapanen Pittsburgh Penguins
Kasperi Kapanen Pittsburgh Penguins Photo via Kapanen Instagram

The Kapanen Trade Needs to Work

There’s been a lot of talk about what happens if the Penguins aren’t successful this season. With players aging and with Rutherford having basically mortgaged the future to put, what he believes is a competitive team on the ice. if the Penguins don’t win, there could be massive changes.

Pittsburgh acquired Kapanen as part of a six-player trade with the Maple Leafs on Aug. 25. Kapenen’s exit from the Maple Leafs was necessary for cap reasons. He’s a useful player who scored 36 points (13 goals, 23 assists) in 69 games last season but the Penguins need him to take another step.

If he can’t do it with Crosby as his center, it’s hard to imagine he’ll knock it out of the park with anyone else.

Next: Bruins Cassidy Updates Tuukka Rask Status, Both Sides to Move Forward

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