According to a press release from the NHL Players Association, 24 restricted free agents have filed for salary arbitration. Pittsburgh Penguins forward Kasperi Kapanen is among the list who filed before the 5 p.m. deadline on Sunday.
Kapanen is one of two remaining restricted free agents for the Penguins, along with fellow Finnish forward Kasper Bjorkqvist. Bjorkqvist signed a contract with Oulun Kärpät of the Finnish Liiga, but the Penguins extended a qualifying offer to keep his North American signing rights.
Kapanen's qualifying offer was $840,000, much below his value. Despite coming off of a career-worst season. In 79 games, Kapanen scored 32 points (11-21) while dropping into the Penguin's bottom six by the end of the season.
The 25-year-old winger is coming off a three-year contract worth $3.2 million per season. While that salary cap hit is a bargain for a top-six player, Kapanen hasn't produced as such since being re-acquired by the Penguins in 2020.
The confirmed date for Kapanen's hearing has yet to be announced, but the window for all 24 restricted free agents is between July 27th and August 11th. A deal can still be reached before the arbitration date between Kapanen and the Penguins, which would be the preferred option for both sides.
Speaking to Taylor Haase of DK Pittsburgh Sports last week, Penguins general manager Ron Hextall spoke positively about the discussions between the team and Kapanen. "I'm sure we'll get something done. I spoke with his (Kapenen's) agent at the draft, so I don't think Kappy is going to be a problem."
The Penguins currently have $1.96 million in cap space, with 13 forwards on the NHL roster. Most likely, one of Drake Caggiula or Josh Archibald would be sent to the minors to open up a roster spot for Kapanen should he re-sign.
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