The contrast was as stark as the crisp white Toronto Maple Leafs jerseys compared to the black Pittsburgh Penguins sweaters. The differences in reactions from the organizations and fan bases were equally stark. The Pittsburgh Penguins gave up the 15th pick overall in the 2020 NHL Draft to the Toronto Maple Leafs for former Penguins first-round pick Kasperi Kapanen.
There is something primal about a trade. The excitement and intensity as it comes to fruition can feel like the tribe is gathering, and the drums are pounding.
And then the aftermath hits, sometimes like a ton of bricks. Who’s involved?
Penguins GM Jim Rutherford traded the Penguins first-round pick, Swedish prospect Filip Hallander, the rights to RFA Evan Rodrigues, and minor leaguer David Warsofsky to Toronto for Kapanen, Swedish defenseman prospect Jesper Lindgren and bubble NHL player Pontus Aberg.
“Certainly, I don’t think this is going to be it for us as we go along,” Toronto Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas said on Tuesday. “We wanted this (salary cap) flexibility so that we could be flexible inside the marketplace for either free agents or for trades.”
On the flip side (old vinyl record reference), one Penguins team source expressed confusion to PHN.
The insider wasn’t alone. The Penguins fan base was, at best, mixed, too. And, in the Toronto Maple Leafs’ self-analysis conversely rested the great Penguins problem.