On August 5th, the Rangers were swept in three games to the opposing Carolina Hurricanes, as their top line, including Sebastian Aho, cruised through the New York Rangers. The Rangers couldn’t get much momentum against their strong opponent. However, one player in that series who really hit his stride with great potential was the Rangers 2nd overall pick, Kaapo Kakko.
During the pause prior to this series, Kakko went back home to get some additional ice time with his coaches alongside teammate Alexander Georgiev. Upon his return to training camp, the Coaching Staff of the New York Rangers were very impressed by Kaapo Kakko’s performance and commented on how much more mature he looked on the ice. Quinn noted that Kakko looked “recharged” and “more comfortable” than he did during his first 66 NHL games. Quinn also stated, “I think Kakko has a little bit more jump in his step. I think he’s really looking forward to getting the season going again and we’re going to need him if we’re going to reach our ultimate goal.”
Many fans and reporters had high expectations of a 50-60 point season for the young prospect, Kaapo Kakko, going into the 2019-2020 season. However, Kakko finished his first NHL season with 10 goals and 13 assists adding up to only a 23 point season. By comparison, the #1 overall pick, Jack Hughes with the NJ Devils, had similar numbers in his first season as well. The Rangers of course would have also loved to see more improvement upon Kakko’s performance during the season.
For next season, Kaapo Kakko could be a player to watch out for due to the fact that he is getting more aggressive and gaining more confidence. Kakko is starting to use his size and mobility to his advantage, as he uses his strength to drive hard to the net. The puck will find the back of the net if the young forward can build off of these plays that we witnessed in the play-in games this past season.