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Frustration in Toronto as Kapanen's promotion to the Leafs' top line has yet to pay off

october 8, 2019
Following a 3-2 loss to the Stanely Cup Champion St. Louis Blues on Monday night, Toronto head coach Mike Babcock was quoted saying "Hyman's good, eh?"

Perhaps, reading between the lines, this could be interpreted as a subtle poke at critics who have heavily focused on the Tavares and Marner duo, who tend to be electric together on the ice, while undervaluing what Zach Hyman brought to the line in the 2018-19 Season. Hyman managed 21 goals and 20 assists in 71 games last year, in addition to taking the ice with a torn ACL during the Leafs' round one playoff battle with the Boston Bruins, showing a mountain of dedication to the team and the desire to win.

This statement also holds weight in regards to Kasperi Kapanen and his newfound promotion to the Maple Leafs' top line. Kapanen, who is working with just one full season at the NHL level and has been thrown onto an unnatural left wing spot, has struggled through four games and has had to deal with fingers pointed in his direction multiple times since opening day.

Since the start of this season, Kapanen has held the worst +/- on the roster, currently sitting at -4. Thus far, he has yet to bank a single point in four games. He has also been the center of attention regarding the Leafs' 6-5 shootout loss, after a nonsensical penalty, in which a frustrated Kapanen threw a broken stick at a puck that was in play, while attempting to kill a penalty.Jeff Petry of the Montreal Canadiens was awarded a penalty shot on the play and would then capitalize on the opportunity and tie the game. The Habs would go on to win the game in a shootout and leave Toronto with a well earned two points.

Kapanen has also been mentioned as a monumental factor in Alex Pietrangelo's game winning goal on Monday night in Toronto, as Kapanen was beat down low, allowing the St. Louis Blues captain to fire off the game winner. Kapanen was quoted as saying "Its my guy, I should've seen he was going that low," a realization that came a little to late for the Leafs' newly promoted top winger. Kapanen, who's speed received praise on the Leaf's bottom six, has yet to hear those same kind words in regards to his play on the top of the Maple Leafs' roster.

Between chirping from critics', subtle comments from all around the NHL and some less than friendly words from the opposing bench, namely Max Domi of the Montreal Canadiens, it's clear that Kapanen's start to the 2019-20 season has been anything but smooth.

“I know what to do. There’s not much to it," Kapanen told Sportsnet. "It’s still hockey. I know how to play hockey. I just have to get into the groove.”

Though it was stated as a 'cautious estimate,' the Leaf's aspire to see Zach Hyman back on the ice as early as November, as per GM Kyle Dubas. Given what we've seen from Kapanen, it seems apparent that when Hyman is ready to return to the ice, his spot as a top line performer will be there and waiting for him.

So you think Hyman will get his old spot back once he returns?
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   Boston Bruins
   Tampa Bay Lightning
   Washington Capitals
   Pittsburgh Penguins
   St Louis Blues
   Colorado Avalanche
   Other
FEBRUARY 16, 2020
TOP 20 G A PTS
PATRIC HORNQVIST
3 1 4
SIDNEY CROSBY
1 1 2
ANDREW AGOZZINO
- 2 2
VALTTERI FILPPULA
1 - 1
KRISTOPHER LETANG
1 - 1
TREVOR VAN RIEMSDYK
1 - 1
CHRIS WAGNER
1 - 1
SEBASTIAN AHO
- 1 1
TYLER BERTUZZI
- 1 1
TEDDY BLUEGER
- 1 1
SAM LAFFERTY
- 1 1
CHARLIE MCAVOY
- 1 1
MARCUS PETTERSSON
- 1 1
JACCOB SLAVIN
- 1 1
BRANDON TANEV
- 1 1
JASON ZUCKER
- 1 1
JUSTIN ABDELKADER
- - -
JOSH ARCHIBALD
- - -
ZACH ASTON-REESE
- - -
ANDREAS ATHANASIOU
- - -
COMPLETE LIST  
NHL LEADERS
POINTS GP PTS
LEON DRAISAITL
58 92
DAVID PASTRNAK
59 82
CONNOR MCDAVID
55 81
NATHAN MACKINNON
57 80
ARTEMI PANARIN
56 77
BRAD MARCHAND
59 74
JACK EICHEL
57 73
NIKITA KUCHEROV
57 72
PATRICK KANE
58 72
AUSTON MATTHEWS
59 71
COMPLETE STANDINGS  
GOALS GP G
DAVID PASTRNAK
59 42
AUSTON MATTHEWS
59 42
ALEXANDER OVECHKIN
57 40
LEON DRAISAITL
58 33
JACK EICHEL
57 32
COMPLETE STANDINGS  
ASSISTS GP A
LEON DRAISAITL
58 59
JOHN CARLSON
58 54
CONNOR MCDAVID
55 51
BRAD MARCHAND
59 51
JONATHAN HUBERDEAU
58 49
COMPLETE STANDINGS  
DEFENSEMEN GP PTS
JOHN CARLSON
58 69
ROMAN JOSI
57 57
VICTOR HEDMAN
57 49
ALEX PIETRANGELO
58 46
QUINN HUGHES
57 44
COMPLETE STANDINGS  
ROOKIES GP PTS
QUINN HUGHES
57 44
CALE MAKAR
49 42
NICK SUZUKI
61 38
VICTOR OLOFSSON
43 37
DOMINIK KUBALIK
56 35
COMPLETE STANDINGS  
WINS GP W
ANDREI VASILEVSKIY
44 32
JORDAN BINNINGTON
41 24
FREDERIK ANDERSEN
43 24
CONNOR HELLEBUYCK
48 24
CAREY PRICE
50 24
COMPLETE STANDINGS  
SHUTOUTS GP SO
ELVIS MERZLIKINS
27 5
MARC-ANDRE FLEURY
42 4
CONNOR HELLEBUYCK
48 4
JAMES REIMER
23 3
JAROSLAV HALAK
26 3
COMPLETE STANDINGS  

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