10:25 AM: Kakko’s qualifying offer after the 2023-24 season will be $2.4 million. (CapFriendly)
10:05 AM: Kakko’s cap is $2.1 million. (Staple, Brooks)
10:02 AM: The Rangers have announced that Kaapo Kakko has signed a two-year contract deal.
Kakko was an RFA and was expected to sign a two-year deal.
From the Rangers: “Kakko, 21, played in 43 games for the Blueshirts in 2021-22, recording seven goals and 11 assists for 18 points and a plus-nine rating. In addition, Kakko registered five points (2G-3A) in 19 playoff games.”
Adam Rotter: So the last bit of the offseason is now settled for the Rangers. It’s a very fair contract for Kakko and the Rangers based upon his performance the past three years. Everyone is expecting more out of Kakko through the life of these next two years. The opportunity will be there for him in the top-six, but probably only on the second PP unit.
All of the concern about Kakko, offer sheets, potential trades or wanting out is now over, but the Rangers, Gerard Gallant more specifically, brought that on themselves. It has never stopped being ridiculous that he was sat out for Game 6 against Tampa. I don’t think he necessarily would have made the difference in Game 6, but if he plays then there is no story heading into the offseason about Kakko.
Kakko doesn’t turn 22 until February and it’s hard to keep that in perspective when he was a second overall pick and hasn’t yet come close to living up to the expectations set out when he was drafted. He’s still incredibly young, but when other high picks break out from the same draft slot or the same draft year a lot of questions come up. He’s been a better and more noticeable player in each season and that culminated with his strong play in the playoffs. Will more time, more games and consistent time in the top six lead to an offensive breakout or is Kakko just going to be a role player? He’s at a relatively cheap cap number that the Rangers could probably hold him for another inconsistent season before making a final decision in the last year of this deal, but in some ways it feels like this is sort of make or break for Kakko. He doesn’t need to score 40 goals to stick around, but he will need to make a bigger offensive impact and show that that part of his game is developing.