With a couple of injuries hindering the Toronto Maple Leafs, the team has called up goaltender Garret Sparks and forward Kasperi Kapanen from the Toronto Marlies.
The Toronto Maple Leafs made a pair of call-ups on Monday, adding goaltender Garret Sparks and forward Kasperi Kapanen from the Toronto Marlies.
With Frederik Andersen injured the call-up of Sparks was expected, but the addition of Kapanen was a surprise. The Leafs’ bottom six is intact, for the most part, but with Nikita Soshnikov, Josh Leivo and Eric Fehr injured, there is a spot open on the fourth line.
Although Kapanen will likely be a top six forward for the Leafs in the future, it looks like he will start on the team’s fourth line and work his way up the depth chart. Since Zach Hyman is firmly entrenched next to Auston Matthews, I would expect to see Kapanen restricted to a fourth line role with penalty killing duties and the occasional power play appearance.
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The 20-year-old Finn has improved immensely since last season and he’s notched 18 goals and 24 assists with the Marlies. In fact, if it wasn’t for a lower body injury he sustained in mid-January, he likely would have been up with the Leafs sooner.
Considering how much Mike Babcock harps on the penalty kill, I think Kapanen has a real chance of staying with the Leafs for the remainder of the season. After all, Babcock said the main reason Soshnikov played over Leivo was because he could kill penalties, so I think Kapanen’s combination of speed and skill will appeal to Babcock in a way that Soshnikov doesn’t.
As for Sparks, I don’t think his stay with the Leafs will be long since Andersen’s injury doesn’t sound to be too serious. The 23-year-old has been lights in the AHL, though, posting an 18-7-0 record to go along with a 0.927 save percentage in 26 appearances.
Unless Andersen is out for an extended period of time, or Curtis McElhinney struggles as the team’s backup, I would expect Sparks to remain the Marlies No. 1 goaltender as they prepare for the postseason.
What do you think about the Toronto Maple Leafs calling up Sparks and Kapanen? How excited are you to see Kapanen play? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.