The St. Louis Blues have had an inconsistent start to the season. With few bright spots to point to for the rest of the season, Kasperi Kapanen leads the list of Blues skaters who deserve to stay for next year.
Kapanen was claimed on waivers by the St. Louis Blues last season after a failed career with the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Finnish forward finished the 2022-23 season by playing 23 games for the Blues, registering eight goals and 14 points.
It was the most production the former first-round pick had since his time with the Toronto Maple Leafs during his second entire season in the NHL in 2018-19 when he registered his only 20-goal season of his career.
After his 20-goal season, Kapanen struggled to replicate his breakout season, as he never registered more than 13 goals and 36 points after that season with Toronto.
There is no case to be made for the people who say that he was never surrounded with enough talent. He was able to play with some of the best players of the current era. He was on lines with Auston Matthews, William Nylander, Sydney Crosby, and Evgeni Malkin over his career.
So far this season, he has been able to find his scoring touch, and the 27-year-old is making an impact on both sides of the ice for the 2023-24 St. Louis Blues.
His recent performances, and the Blues’ lack of performances, have elevated Kapanen to the team’s first line with Robert Thomas and Jordan Kyrou. This move should elevate the team’s offensive structure and allow the team to create more scoring opportunities.
Vrana has more explosive talent in his arsenal and was perhaps more deserving of an extension before the season started. However, after two healthy scratches already this season, the torch seems to have been passed to Kapanen.
With the NHL salary cap taking a big jump next season, Kapanen’s price would likely not come in all that high. Even at a $4.5 million-a-year contract for the next three or four years, the extension would look solid in the next five years.