Kasperi Kapanen: “I wanted to stay in Toronto… That was my number-one priority”


Kasperi Kapanen met with the media after putting pen to paper on a new three-year, $3.2 million AAV contract to remain with the Maple Leafs.

You’ve played 299 pro games for this organization between the Marlies and Maple Leafs. Why was it so important to get this deal done now and be a part of the organization?

Kapanen: There was never a doubt I wanted to go anywhere else. I wanted to stay in Toronto. That was my number-one priority. Ever since I got traded here, it’s been an honour to play for the Marlies and for the Leafs. It’s something special to me. To get this deal done now is huge for me.

How does it feel?

Kapanen: It feels amazing, obviously. I am excited about that. Now I can kind of just focus and relax and focus on the upcoming season and working out. It is a weight lifted off my shoulders for sure.

You must be really proud of the route you’ve taken because you put your nose down and went to work with the Marlies and probably at times thought it was too much time there. You went about your business and now you’re here.

Kapanen: Yeah, it wasn’t the easiest route, for sure. But I think it was the right one for me. I think it was the right road for me as a person and a player. It’s been frustrating at times, but it means everything to me to play for the Leafs and be here for another three years.

Were you worried at all you might be traded because of the cap situation?

Kapanen: I wasn’t really worried about that too much. I wanted to stay in Toronto and do everything I can to stay and get a good deal done. That’s what happened. It wasn’t hard at all. It was pretty fast and pretty easy. I am so happy to be here.

Getting some more term was important rather than a one-year situation?

Kapanen: I want to stay here for a while. That’s for sure. Regarding everything else that is going on, the deal I got is amazing. I decided I just want to stay in Toronto and be here and play with these guys. It is a special team and a young team. The future is really bright.

How much are you paying attention to Mitch Marner’s situation and wondering yourself how it is going to play out?

Kapanen: Not too much. He’s doing his own thing and I am not too worried about it. I am just focusing on myself. I wanted to get this deal done and I am happy about that.

You and Andreas Johnsson have risen in the ranks of the organization together. How have you seen Andreas grown as well?

Kapanen: Me and Johnny played for the Marlies and were in the trenches together. Last year, we got to play together with Matty a bit. Just seeing him develop as a player as well is special. He is a good buddy of mine. I am happy to see that he signed, too.

Your dad was able to establish roots in Philadelphia. Having grown up with that, can you appreciate what it means to stay in one place for a long time and get to be brought up the way you were in Philly?

Kapanen: For sure. Staying somewhere and knowing you are going to be somewhere for three years, and signing a deal like that, I was lucky enough that my dad only got traded once so we didn’t bounce around. It’s good for your mental health and kind of knowing the future is bright and is going to be good. I really appreciated that growing up for sure.

Not that you aren’t welcome in Toronto, but I thought all the Finns went back to Finland for June?

Kapanen: I was there for a bit. I saw my family and my friends. But nowadays, when I come to Toronto, it feels more like home to me. I feel more relaxed here and I’m just happy to be here.

Did you wear that [YYZ] shirt on purpose?

Kapanen: Yeah, I am repping now. I am going to be here for a while, so Toronto is an amazing city. I don’t want to go anywhere else and I am lucky to be here.

Were you one of those guys at the Raptors games?

Kapanen: I wasn’t. That’s the best part that I missed out on. When I was back home in Finland, I was thinking of flying out just to see a couple games. But I am so happy that they won. It is a huge thing for the city of Toronto and it’s well deserved