NHL Central Scouting has announced that Kaapo Kakko is the top ranked European Skater for the 2019 NHL draft.
Kaapo is listed at 6 ft 2, 194 lbs, models his game after Toronto’s Auston Matthews and is a fan of Colorado’s Mikko Rantanen and Buffalo’s Rasmus Ristolainen.
Goran Stubb, the NHL’s director of European scouting said that “Kakko is a two-way player who is dangerous around the net and knows when he has to move the puck quickly and when to be patient. He’s strong on his skates, battles well and could be NHL ready as soon as next season since he played two seasons (51 games) against men in Liiga.” (NHL.com)
In selecting Kaako second overall for the Rangers, Chris Peters wrote at ESPN.com that he is a “game-changer” for the Rangers rebuild, can reach the NHL “right away” and is more if a “cornerstone piece” than anyone currently in the system.
Future Considerations ranked Kaako third overall in their 2018 NHL Draft Guide, saying that he is a “dangerous goal scorer” that has “skilled hands,” protects the puck with his body and can “fire off quick, strong effective wrist shots from anywhere he finds himself positioned in the offensive zone.”
They wrote, “when he is engaged, Kaako wins the majority of his physical battles without disrupting his possession of the puck. If he doesn’t have it, he’ll get it.”
HockeyProspect.com wrote in their 2018 NHL Draft Guide that Kaako is a power forward with “high end tools and a ton of potential.”
They add, “it’s very rare to see a player of his skill-set who competes at the rate he’s able to. He keeps an excellent pace which should be highlighted since he can physically dominate down-low and around the net area. Furthermore, he’s got tremendous puck-skills which makes him dangerous when cutting through heavy traffic and during one-on-one situations. Furthermore, he got excellent hockey-sense which allows him to make plays at top speeds, it wasn’t common to see a play die on his stick.”
Dan Marr of NHL Central Scouting said of Kakko, “there is no reason he shouldn’t be able to come over here and make an NHL club at training camp.” (NHL Draft Class Podcast)