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Kapanen, Harrington add to Maple Leafs' young cadre

by Mike Brophy

TORONTO -- The Toronto Maple Leafs continue to add youth and skill to their roster with the additions Wednesday of forwards Kasperi Kapanen and Nick Spaling and defenseman Scott Harrington from the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Phil Kessel trade.

Kapanen, whose father Sami Kapanen played 831 NHL games scoring 189 goals and 458 points, is another young player the Maple Leafs hope will develop into a top-six forward.

"He's one of the youngest players that was drafted two years ago," Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan said. "He came over this year and played a little bit in the [American Hockey League]. He's a talented guy; a top-six forward, we are hoping. I think he adds to another group of players that we have in our stable, that with a lot of work and a lot of patience and some development, we hope he can become a very productive Leaf at some point."

Kapanen, 18, is key to the trade for the Maple Leafs and along with forward William Nylander, their first pick in 2014, and forward Mitch Marner, their 2015 first-rounder, gives the organization a handful of gifted prospects.

The Finnish-born Kapanen was Pittsburgh's first round pick (No. 22) in 2014. He played most of the 2014-15 season with KalPo Kuopio scoring 11 goals and 21 points in 41 games. He finished the season with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the AHL scoring one goal and two points in four regular-season games and three goals and five points in the Calder Cup Playoffs.

Spaling, 26 and a center, scored nine goals and 27 points in 82 games with the Penguins this past season.

Harrington, a 22-year-old defenseman, was pointless and minus-10 in 10 games with the Penguins while scoring two goals and 12 points in 48 games with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. He played four seasons with the London Knights, who were managed by Mark Hunter, a member of the Maple Leafs management group.

"Harrington is somebody that Mark Hunter was very familiar with," Shanahan said. "He is a character player."

Shanahan continues to insist he will build the Maple Leafs through the draft. Along with Kapanen, Nylander and Marner, the Maple Leafs are hopeful 2013 first-round pick Frederik Gauthier, who played in the past two World Junior Championship tournaments for Canada, as well and prospects Conner Brown and Stuart Percy can develop into reliable players.

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