Rangers Get Their Man in Kakko
By Patrick Hoffman
This was a long time coming for the New York Rangers.
Ever since the club was awarded the second overall pick back at the draft lottery a few months, Blueshirt fans already started dreaming about Kaapo Kakko. Kakko, an elite Finnish 18-year-old right winger, officially became a Ranger on June 21 when the team took him with the second overall pick in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft.
This is a franchise-changing moment for the Rangers. For a long time, the team was never near the top of the draft board because of how much success they had from 2005-06 to 2016-17.
During this stretch, they made the playoffs a lot, were the best team or one of the best teams into the league, went to the Stanley Cup Final once, went to the Eastern Conference Finals three times, and so on and so forth. Because of all this success, having a top pick in the draft wasn't even a though for the team or their fans.
This all changed in February of 2018 when team general manager Jeff Gorton and team President Glen Sather decided that the franchise needed to under go a rebuild. It was this decision that helped the Rangers get to this moment.
For the first time in a long time, the Blueshirts have a potential all-world talent and superstar on their hands. He's got size, extreme skill, can put the puck in the net, has soft hands, and is someone that the Rangers should build their offense around.
There are many reasons why the Rangers got extremely lucky to be afforded the opportunity to get Kakko. For starters, he is a game changer.
While the Rangers have a few guys that can put the puck in the net and come up big in key situations, they don't have a Kakko. Kakko scores big goals, gets in the right position at key times, and is someone that can make defenses look foolish when it matters most.
"On the world stage, he's already delivered," said Director of NHL Central Scouting Dan Marr. "[He scored a] big goal for Finland when they won at the World Juniors. Outstanding performance for being one of the youngest players in the tournament at the World Championships. You have a chance to bring a player who is a world champion into your lineup before he's even attended an NHL training camp and that's pretty special. He's a complete package and he's going to have a strong future ahead of him because he's already physically developed and has a couple of years of experience playing at the pro level so he's as game-ready as you're going to find in this NHL Draft."
Secondly, as the quote above says, he appears to be NHL ready. Today's NHL is all about skill, skill, skill, and Kakko brings a ton of it to the Rangers.
While the number one overall pick of the draft, Jack Hughes, is an unbelievable talent and someone that the Devils are very lucky to have, no one is quite sure if he is ready to play in the NHL yet. He still has to grow into his body, something that Kakko has already done quite a bit of and is still doing.
Lastly, elite forwards don't go on trees. Every team needs a few elite forwards to have success and right now, you can say that the Rangers have one in Mika Zibanejad.
The Rangers need more talent around Zibanejad to help push this club's offense. Kakko is a guy that can help accomplish that.
I may be bias since I'm a Blueshirt fan, but I am absolutely pumped wit this pick. It's all bout the future for this club and with Gorton and now Davidson doing things the right way, getting a guy like Kakko into the mix is awesome.
Patrick covers the NHL for The Ultimate Hockey Fan Cave.
He has previously covered the league for WTP Sports, Sportsnet.ca, Kukla’s Korner, Spector’s Hockey, NHL Network Radio blog, TheHockeyNews.com, The Fourth Period, Stan Fischler’s “The Fischler Report”, as well as a slew of others.