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Kapanen, Johnsson sign with Maple Leafs

Forwards each could have become restricted free agent on July 1 @NHLdotcom

Kasperi Kapanen and Andreas Johnsson each signed a contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs on Friday. Each could have become a restricted free agent on July 1.

Kapanen signed a three-year, $9.6 million contract. It carries an average annual value of $3.2 million. Johnsson signed a four-year, $13.6 million contract that carries an average annual value of $3.4 million.

Kapanen, a 22-year-old forward, had NHL career highs in goals (20), assists (24) and points (44) in 78 regular-season games with the Maple Leafs this season. He had two points (one goal, one assist) in seven Stanley Cup Playoff games. 

"There was never a doubt that I wanted to go anywhere else," Kapanen said. "I wanted to stay in Toronto. That was my No. 1 priority and ever since I got traded here, it's been an honor to play for the Marlies [of the American Hockey League] and the Maple Leafs and it's something special to me. To get this deal done, it's huge for me.

"It feels amazing. Now I can relax and focus on the upcoming season. It's a weight lifted off my shoulders for sure. It means everything to me to play for the Leafs and be here for another three years."

Video: Kasperi Kapanen Re-Signs with Maple Leafs

Selected by the Pittsburgh Penguins with the No. 22 pick in the 2014 NHL Draft, Kapanen has 54 points (28 goals, 26 assists) in 133 regular-season games with Toronto, and five points (four goals, one assist) in 20 playoff games.

He was acquired by Toronto on July 1, 2015, in a trade that sent forward Phil Kessel to Pittsburgh.

"Kasperi has been with us four years," Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas said, "and [it's been great] to watch him grow as a person and player to last year, where he finally cracked the team out of training camp and played full time. He was outstanding on the penalty kill, used his speed, moved up and down the lineup, whatever we asked of him, he was great." 

Johnsson, a 24-year-old forward, had 43 points (20 goals, 23 assists) in 73 games with the Maple Leafs this season. He had four points (one goal, three assists) in seven playoff games.

Selected by Toronto in the seventh round (No. 202) of the 2013 NHL Draft, Johnsson has 46 points (22 goals, 24 assists) in 82 regular-season games and six points (two goals, four assists) in 13 playoff games.

Video: Maple Leafs re-sign Kapanen, Johnsson

"Andreas ... bet on himself last season, took his qualifying offer and then despite his slow start, had a great season," Dubas said. "We love the competitiveness and the joy he brings to the rink every day in the way that he plays. He's been a big part of things in the organization for a number of years and it was great to see him establish himself as an NHLer full time.

"To know we have those guys locked in for more than just one year is nice relief for us and we hope for them gives them the ability to relax, come in and continue to develop and reach their potential, which we don't think either is close to yet."

The Maple Leafs created NHL salary cap space Saturday by trading forward Patrick Marleau to the Carolina Hurricanes along with a conditional first-round pick and a seventh-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft for a sixth-round pick in the 2020 draft. 

Toronto forward Mitchell Marner can become a restricted free agent July 1. Marner, also 22, had NHL career highs in goals (26), assists (68) and points (94), and was plus-22 in 82 regular-season games with the Maple Leafs, ranking fourth in assists in the NHL and 11th in points. He had four points (two goals, two assists) in seven playoff games. correspondent Dave McCarthy contributed to this report

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