Newly-acquired forward Kasperi Kapanen has yet to play a game for the Pittsburgh Penguins ever since he was traded this offseason by the Toronto Maple Leafs, but he is already getting a huge promotion.
On Friday, Pens head coach Mike Sullivan went on the air of the team’s podcast The Scoop and revealed that Kapanen will start the 2020-21 campaign playing on the top line with Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel.
“We think he brings that speed dimension that I think is complementary to Sid and Jake’s game,” Sullivan told The Scoop podcast. “And he’s shown the ability to finish. He’s scored 20 goals in this league (2018-19). He has elite speed, he has good size, so he brings a size dimension (6-foot-1, 194 pounds) to that line as well. 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.”
Last season, it was Dominik Simon who slotted on the line with Crosby and Guentzel, but with all the changes to the lineup and the addition of Kapanen’s speed, Sullivan feels this is the right move.
“We think we’ll start [Kapanen] with Sid and Jake. We’ll see how it goes, and if we have to make adjustments, we’ll make adjustments. But when you look at our top six right now with Sid, Jake and Kapanen and then Geno (Evgeni Malki ), Rust and [Jason] Zucker, it’s a pretty solid top six.”
Kapanen registered 20 goals and 44 points during the 2018-19 campaign and should be capable of reaching those numbers playing with Crosby. In addition, the 24-year-old forward should slot into a role on the No. 2 power-play, a huge upgrade for the team.
Penguins fans hope KK will be able to handle the pressure of playing with the best NHL player out there and be a huge boost up front in Pittsburgh.