With the 2nd Pick in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, the New York Rangers Have Selected Kaapo Kakko From the TPS Turku of the Finnish Elite League.
About Kaapo Kakko
It seemed pretty clear from the get-go that Kaapo Kakko would be the second-overall pick behind only Jack Hughes. In most years, a player like Kakko would go first overall without a second thought and despite Hughes running the gauntlet as the unanimous No. 1 overall pick from wire to wire this year, Kakko’s name still surfaced as a darkhorse to be the best player coming out of this class.
A 6-foot-1, 180-pound winger, Kakko has proven at every level that he can dominate the competition. It would be surprising to see him anywhere other than the New York Rangers lineup next season,
THW Prospect Profile Excerpt
“The unanimous number two in the upcoming draft, Kaapo Kakko is the top international prospect that teams will be looking to draft this offseason. By all accounts, the 18-year-old Kakko comes with a ton of upside and very little to pick apart.
He sees the game like few others and always seems to be one step ahead as the play unfolds. As a winger, Kakko has spent some time down the middle this season with TPS expanding his abilities so that he could possibly play center at times throughout his career.
Kaapo Kakko is the likely number two pick behind Hughes. (Photo by Kevin Light/Getty Images)
In his first full season with TPS, Kakko scored a record-breaking 22 goals in 45 games – adding 16 assists to his total. The record originally belonged to Aleksander Barkov who scored 21 goals as a rookie in the SM-Liiga.
While some have compared him to the likes of Barkov and Jesperi Kotkaniemi, others are saying that he has the offensive potential of Patrik Laine with better defensive skill and responsibility. Either way, it’ll be something when Kakko makes his NHL debut and he should give NHL fans a lot to talk about for many years to come.
How This Affects the Rangers’ Plans
The Rangers aren’t a team interested in rebuilding or retooling for long. While general manager Jeff Gorton has worked wonders with the team over the last two seasons, making multiple significant improvements to the team’s pipeline and showing a strong grasp on asset management, this Rangers team will be ready to compete sooner than anybody realizes.
With Kakko in the fold, the Rangers now have their cornerstone franchise player to build around as he joins a young core consisting of Mika Zibanejad, Lias Andersson, Filip Chytil, Brady Skjei, Adam Fox, and newly-acquired Jacob Trouba who should all be this team’s core for the long-haul. That doesn’t even mention Vitali Kravtsov, K’Andre Miller and Nils Lundkvist who were all first-round picks of the team just a year ago.
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The Rangers may have been doing things correctly to get many of their assets, but winning the lottery and moving into the second position to get them Kakko was something that nobody could have predicted for this team.