Kaapo Kakko

The kind of player the Rangers are getting in Kaapo Kakko

Kaapo Kakko’s coach in Finland, Kalle Kaskinen, told Matt Larkin in the 2019 Hockey News Draft Preview issue that Kakko is the best player he’s seen at this age.

He said that Kakko can “play with the puck, beat you 1-on-1, take hits and give hits” before adding “he’s like a man already.”

Kakko’s coach at the World Championships, Jukka Jalonen, told the NY Times that if the Devils want a winner, “they should pick Kakko.”


He said that Kakko could play in the NHL right now and that “in a few months, he will be even better. After a few years, he will be one of the best playersi n the world.” (NY Times)

NHL Central Scouting’s Dan Marr said of Kakko, “he is a World Champion before he has even stepped on the ice in the NHL.” (MSG)

Devils Devils Sr. Director of Player Personnel Dan MacKinnon said that Kakko is a power forward and does his best work in the low offensive zone. (MSG)

Kakko described himself as someone that is “good in the offensive zone, I can score and create chances, and am good with the puck.” (

Corey Pronman ranked Kakko 7th in his list of Top 31 draft prospects of the last five seasons and noted that he can be a “cornerstone” player for the Rangers. (The Athletic)

Chris Peters of ESPN ranked Kakko as the top draft prospect in the categories of “corner/wall battling” and “net-front play.”

Peters says that Kakko “already plays an NHL game in the hard areas of the ice” and that his ability to extend plays on the wall with his strength, footwoork and puck skills are “truly remarkable.” (ESPN)

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.”

Scott Wheeler wrote in The Athletic that Kaapo projects to be a 70-80 point winger and a “perennial All-Star.” (The Athletic)

Scouts that spoke with Bob McKenzie about Kakko said that he is not just a goal scorer but also a “creative playmaker. He’s going to be a first line NHL winger with size, power and skill” and that right now he is “a man.” (TSN)

Former NHLer Sami Salo said that Kakko is “best when the pressure is at the highest.” (NY Post)

Kakko’s agent told the Ottawa Sun, “he’s a clutch player, he’s highly competitive and a winner. There’s a difficult decision to make there, but there’s no question he’s NHL ready and he can walk in next year.”

Craig Button said on TSN this week, “Kaapo Kakko is a handful, from the top of the circles down he can beat you with skill, will and he can score and make plays. He has that great mind to understand what play needs to happen. Whether getting open to receive a pass or make that pass. Ready to plat immediately for the Rangers and a star on Broadway.”

Zach Budish played with Kaapo this past season and said that he “sees plays before they happen” and that while he can score “fancy” goals many of the plays that he scores on are “net-front” and “rebounds where he beats the guy 1-on-1.”

Former Flyers goalie Antero Niittymaki, the Director of Hockey Ops for Kaapo’s team in Finland, said he was surprised at how “defensively responsible he was for an offensive player. We never had to worry about his defensive game all year.” (

He added that in some ways Kakko reminds him of Colorado’s Mikko Rantanen at that age, “but I think Kaapo is a better skater, more skilled.” (

Adam Rotter: Being a top-pick comes with a lot of hype but it all seems warranted with Kakko. Name the trait, attitude, work ethic, skill-set, skating, hockey IQ, and Kakko grades out highly from everyone. Comparisons run anywhere from Mikko Rantanen to Saku Koivu to Rick Nash or Peter Forsberg and everything points towards Kakko being an All-Star and cornerstone of the Rangers rebuild.