5/16/19 | In a video released by the Devils, two of their scouts said of Kakko:
- In ranking European player, “Obviously number one is Kakko. He’s a man already, every new stage he has entered he has been the best player.”
- “The best he played was in the playoffs and the other team said that their goal was to slow down an 18-year old kid. He knows he is good and that is what his coach said but he also expects a lot from himself.”
Ray Ferraro said before Finland’s game on 5/16, “there aren’t many places he can go from number one, he’s number two or number one. He has to be making NJ, with the top pick, not doubt their choice but think about it. Kakko has five goals, his team only has nine. He’s an 18-year old kid, physical, strong, shown. slick moves with the puck. What has impressed me most, besides his obvious physical skills, his ability to think the game against older players. He has done it in the Finnish Elite League, shows the potential in front of him is going to be pretty grand. If the Rangers get him at #2 they are going to be pretty happy.”
5/14/19 | Matt Larkin writes in the draft preview for The Hockey News, “barring some sort of otherworldly development” Kakko will be a Ranger.
Jussi Ahokas, Finland’s coach at the World Juniors, told Larkin that if Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Montreal’s 3rd overall pick last year, can play in the NHL than so can Kakko, “he has good size but he still has to grow strength-wise. If he has a good summer and works hard, he’ll be ready for the NHL next year for sure.”
Kakko was ranked 2nd overall by The Hockey News.
5/13/19 | Esa Tikkanen told MTV Sports in Finland that he spoke with Glen Sather about Kakko when Tikkanen was in NYC a month ago.
Tikkanen said that he thinks it’s 99% that Kaapo will be a Ranger and that Jack Hughes will go first to the Devils. (MTV Sports)
Olli Jokinen also said that he thinks that the Devils will select Hughes. (MTV Sports)
On Sunday, Darren Dreger of TSN said the following about the Devils and who they may select first overall in June’s draft, “there are many around the NHL that believe Shero and the Devils have committed to drafting Jack Hughes first overall.”
He adds, “they are looking at the long game here and the belief that Hughes will develop into an elite level NHL forward over the next couple of years but if you are talking about today and Kakko scoring 22 goals in the Finnish Elite league and fast forward to what we have seen in Slovakia, he definitely looks NHL ready.”
Brian Lawton said on the NHL Network that Kakko reminded him in some ways of Colorado’s Mikko Rantanen while Jack Hughes resembles more of Patrick Kane and Johnny Gaudreau.
Ray Ferraro said before the USA/Finland game, on TSN, “there is a difference physically in maturity and we have seen that in the first couple of games and for people that think this might change the draft order, the scouts and teams have looked at these players multiples of times, Kakko looks terrific right now, Hughes looks like he is a step behind but I don’t think that will change the order.”
Ferraro said, during the game, that the two players are different and that Hughes is more of an “elusive” player while Kakko brings more of a “power” game.
Ferraro and Gord Miller discussed during the game that the scouting process is much more than the last time you see a player and that player development also plays a big role in how successful a player turns out to be.
Elliotte Friedman writes at Sportsnet that the Rangers “can relax and be happy with whatever they get.”
Dave Reid said on TSN during the second intermission that it’s hard to compare the two players in this game because of the different roles they have on their respective teams.
Adam Rotter: The Rangers have the easiest and best spot in the draft at number one. It’s considered to be a two-player draft at the very top and the Rangers are guaranteed to get one of them. If it’s Hughes then they add an electric playmaker to build around and if it’s Kakko they get a dynamic power forward to add to the rebuild. Most everyone still believes that Hughes will go #1 but that the gap between him and Kakko is much slimmer than everyone expected. Could the Devils take Kakko? Sure. It makes some sense as they could put him next to Nico Hischier and give them a bit of insurance on the wing if Taylor Hall decides not to re-sign. Still, it’s believed that they have Hughes number one and that the Rangers will happily scoop Kakko up at #2.