Kaapo Kakko

Kaapo Kakko has been added to the NHL’s Covid list, Saturday against NJ postponed

5:09PM: Kaapo Kakko has been added to the NHL’s list of players that are unavailable due to Covid protocols.

From the NHL’s list, “Continuing for the balance of the 2020-21 season, the NHL is sharing the names of Players who are “unavailable” to the Club (to practice, travel or play in games) due to COVID protocols. Such “COVID Protocol Related Absences” can be the result of a number of factors including, among others: (1) an initial positive test which remains unconfirmed until confirmatory testing is completed pursuant to the Positive Test Protocol; (2) mandated isolation for symptomatic individuals pursuant to the Positive Test Protocol; (3) required quarantine as a high-risk close contact in accordance with the Positive Test Protocol; (4) isolation based on a confirmed positive test result and/or; (5) quarantine for travel or other reasons as outlined in the COVID-19 Protocol.”

The Rangers called up forward Jonny Brodzinski from Hartford earlier today, likely in relation to the Kakko news.

The Devils, who the Rangers were scheduled to play on Saturday, have 10 players on the Covid list and their games have been postponed through Saturday.

Alexis Lafreniere Kaapo Kakko

What John Davidson said about Jack Johnson, Kakko, development and more

Rangers President John Davidson was a guest on the Cam and Strick Podcast this week and said the following about the Rangers:

  • On signing Jack Johnson, “we signed him for one-year, it fit into the cap situation we are in. We had a terrible penalty killing team last year, Jack killed in Pittsburgh, where they were 10th in the league, and we also brought in a forward with the last name Rooney, with NJ, they were sixth last year. I know Jack, Jack is a good person, so that helps but the biggest plus was Jacques Martin is now part of our coaching staff, Lindy Ruff was coaching the D here and he’s now the head coach in NJ, so we had a hole to fill and Jacques Martin was part of two Cups there, he wanted to work for us, we hired him and then we called him on Jack and Jack was very good for him last year and he would endorse what we are trying to do with Jack, it was a fit for us. We have a lot of kids. There are some franchises in this league with a lot of depth with kids and I don’t know if anybody has more than what we have, especially after getting lucky with the #1 pick and Lafreniere, but we have a lot of defense coming down the road but we have to get there and we have to battle. Jack works hard in the weight room, so kids will see how that happens. We will get through it but we think he’s going to help us in a lot of different areas.”
  • On who he would compare Lafreniere to, “I don’t want to put that on him, because I don’t think it’s right, but this kid is mature for his age. He carries himself like he’s been around the pro ranks for 5-6 years, he’s close to 200lbs already, he likes to carry the puck through the neutral zone like Panarin does and drive the play, not as a center but as a winger, it’s interesting to see that. His play at the World Juniors and on the international stage, when you are on the Canadian team and a captain and expected to do things, he delivered and was an MVP of the tournament and they won gold. I think he gets all of that. We are lucky. I will say this though and I’m proud of this, maybe I’m not right and should have done it differently, maybe it wasn’t the smartest thing but in St. Louis, Columbus and in NY, I’ve never tanked, never been part of a tank job. This time, with us not tanking and being a competitive team, even though we are young, young, young and have a lot of future, we got lucky and got the number one pick and I feel good about that.”
  • More on Lafreniere, “The one thing I’ll say about Lafreniere being up in Quebec, he’s controlled that league for two straight years, as a 17-18 year old, it’s not too often you see that anywhere, that really tells you how good this kid could be.”
  • On Kaapo Kakko last season, “he came over here, new country, new ice size, it’s a lot of things. He had real good moments and other moments where he suffered some. What was really interesting was that he went home and then came back for the bubble, he was a different guy. It was like he put in 2-3 years of maturity and he played really well. Now he’s gone home and our coach David Quinn, he’s in touch with all of our players all the time, comes into my office and we talk about it. He says ‘you wouldn’t believe, he’s just a different person, he’s trusting, mature, working out.’ We tend to think about these guys that they will just come in and be stars, there are not many that do that anymore. You look at Hughes, the number one pick in NJ, same thing. We have to understand how young these guys are and how good the league is. We will see them mature and improve and become terrific players but we have to be intelligent with our patience level to make sure it happens instead of creating problems where we are wishing for too much too early and it stunts the growth of the player.”
  • On developing prospects, “they all go home with their programs and then we have our strength and conditioning guys and head coach call and check-in all the time, there are zoom things you can do. The other thing is development coaches and over in Europe we have Tuomo Ruutu, who played in the league, who is outstanding and he is hands on all the time seeing all these guys. That is a big part of their job, the offseason. We have two more over here in Jed Ortmeyere and Tanner Glass, they are great at what they do, really, really good at what they do. They get to know the players, we just had the draft and they called every player we drafted either that night or the next morning and have already started the relationship. I remember a story last year, Tanner Glass was in Edmonton and we have a kid out there named Robertson who plays junior there, a defenseman, pretty good player, and Tanner Glass went up and watched him play and he had a practice the next day and, sure enough, he went and talked to the coach and put his gear on and he was practicing with him and getting to know the kid on the ice.”
  • On developing relationships with the prospects, “you have to understand what makes a kid tic, and you can’t do that with a telephone conversation. You have to get to know them, see how they act in a restaurant, what they eat, it’s on and on and on like that. The development people, once you draft these kids, are so important for the organization, it’s just gigantic. You see a number of teams now, I know we do it with our farm team in Hartford, we make sure the kids are fed at the rink because you’d rather be hands on and knowing what they are eating, you have to eat right.”
Kaapo Kakko

WATCH: Kaapo Kakko’s FIRST NHL goal

Kaapo Kakko scored his first career NHL goal in the first period of today’s Rangers/Oilers game.

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Kaapo Kakko Traverse City Tournament

WATCH: Kaapo Kakko’s amazing OT winner

Kaapo Kakko scored the OT winner for the Rangers in their game against Minnesota in Traverse City.

Kaapo Kakko Rangers

Kaapo Kakko signs entry-level contract

The Rangers have announced that Kaapo Kakko has signed his three-year entry-level contract.

Kakko’s cap hit is $925,000 per season. (CapFriendly)

His contract, per-year, breaks down as:

  • $832,500 in base salary
  • $92,500 in signing bonus
  • $850,000 in A bonuses
  • $1,800,000 in B bonuses

If Kakko achieves any of his bonuses the resulting cap charge would be part of the Rangers cap the following season.

The “A” level bonuses Kakko can achieve in each season include:

  • Among the Top-Six forwards in ice-time (minimum 42 regular season games)
  • Minimum of 20 goals
  • Minimum of 35 assists
  • Minimum of 60 points
  • Average of at least .73 points per game (minimum 42 regular season games)
  • Among the top three forwards in team plus/minus (minimum 42 regular season games)
  • NHL All-Rookie Team
  • NHL All-Star Game
  • NHL All-Star MVP

The “B” level bonuses for Kakko include finishing in the:

  • Top 5 of Hart and/or Selke and/or Richard trophy voting
  • Top 3 of the Lady Byng trophy voting
  • Top 3 of the Calder Trophy voting
  • End of season All-NHL teams (first or second team)
  • Top 10 of overall goals and/or assists and/or points per game and/or total
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.