Report: Maple Leafs Doctors OK'd Jani Hakanpaa's Knee Despite "Degenerative" Condition

There's some controversy brewing over one of the Toronto Maple Leafs big (in the physical sense of the word) free agent additions, Jani Hakanpaa. The 6-foot-7 blueliner didn't play a game with the Dallas Stars after the middle of March, and a report this week claimed there are fears he might never play again. 

In the words of Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun, he says he was "told by two different sources that they were shocked any team would sign him. I was told they didn't think he'd play again." He went on to reveal that he was told "his knee was bone on bone".

A follow-up report from Leafs insider Nick Kypreos of Sportsnet and the Toronto Star found that indeed Hakanpaa has a "degenerative knee" condition, but that Leafs' doctors didn't share the same fears that the Stars' docs did. 

A Dallas source confirmed to me they would have liked to re-sign Hakanpää but feared he has a “degenerative knee” that would be tough to manage next season. 

The Leafs certainly do not feel the same way as their medical team had an extensive look prior to the signing and were very comfortable giving (team president Brendan) Shanahan and (GM Brad) Treliving the green light to move forward.

Toronto reportedly signed the bruising blueliner to a 2-year, $1.5 million AAV deal.

Hakanpaa registered a +29 rating in his three years in Dallas, recording an average of 223 hits per season, while averaging 121 blocked shots per year as well. He'll be a huge (no pun intended) help on the penalty kill... assuming he's able to play.

Photo: © Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports