Leafs sign Kapanen, Johnsson to extensions, but star RFA Marner still pending

Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas said last week he was close to getting new contracts signed with pending restricted free agent forwards Kasperi Kapanen and Andreas Johnsson.

The parties put pen to paper on Friday.

The Leafs announced Kapanen has agreed to a three-year contract extension with an annual average value of $3.2 million US, while Johnsson’s deal is worth $3.4 million annually over four years.

“To know we have those guys locked in for more than one or two years, it’s a nice relief for us,” Dubas told reporters at the team’s practice facility. “We hope for them, it gives them the ability to relax and continue to develop and reach their potential, which we don’t think either one is close to yet.”

The announcements come after Toronto managed to get Patrick Marleau’s $6.25-million salary cap hit off the books with the veteran forward’s recent trade to the Carolina Hurricanes. Carolina bought out the final year of Marleau’s contract Thursday, making him an unrestricted free agent.

While signing both Kapanen and Johnsson checks off a couple of boxes for the Leafs, they still need to get a new deal done with fellow RFA and star winger Mitch Marner with free agency set to open Monday.

Marner has received a lot of offer-sheet buzz, as outlined here.

The 22-year-old Kapanen recorded a career-high 44 points (20 goals, 24 assists) in 78 games with Toronto in 2018-19. In 133 career regular-season games, the 22nd overall pick in 2014 by the Pittsburgh Penguins has registered 54 points (28 goals, 26 assists), while adding four goals and one assist in 20 playoff games.

“I wanted to stay in Toronto,” Kapanen said. “That was my No. 1 priority. Ever since I got traded here [in the Phil Kessel deal in 2015] it’s been an honour to play for the Marlies and for Leafs.

“It’s something special to me.”

Johnsson had 20 goals and 23 assists in his first full season following a nine-game stint with the Leafs late in the 2017-18 campaign. A seventh-round pick by Toronto in 2013, the 24-year-old has added two goals and four assists in 13 playoff outings with the Leafs.

“We love the competitiveness and the joy he brings to the rink every day,” Dubas said. “He’s been a big part of the organization for a number of years.”

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