A place where tipping is allowed!

Advertisements

Kakko’s OT goal in debut provides Rangers glimpse of what’s to come

TRAVERSE CITY, Michigan — Kaapo Kakko’s debut with the New York Rangers was worth the wait.The No. 2 pick of the 2019 NHL Draft, Kakko scored the game-winning goal in overtime and had three assists in a 4-3 win against the Minnesota Wild at the 2019 NHL Prospect Tournament at Centre Ice Arena on Monday.”The…

TRAVERSE CITY, Michigan — Kaapo Kakko‘s debut with the New York Rangers was worth the wait.

The No. 2 pick of the 2019 NHL Draft, Kakko scored the game-winning goal in overtime and had three assists in a 4-3 win against the Minnesota Wild at the 2019 NHL Prospect Tournament at Centre Ice Arena on Monday.

“The first game of the season, it’s not always easy, but I played with good teammates and it was good,” said Kakko, who did not play in either of New York’s first two games here because of an illness.

The goal perfectly illustrated the characteristics which made the 18-year-old forward one of the most coveted prospects in the past decade.

Playing 3-on-3, Kakko took the puck in the neutral zone and attacked the blue line with speed, dropping his shoulder to get leverage on Wild forward Adam Beckman as he drove the net. Not liking what he saw, he looped around the goal, with Beckman in pursuit, and attacked again, circling the net a second time before beating goalie Hunter Jones to the far post and tucking the puck over the goal line.

“Did you see that goal? That was ridiculous. Jesus,” Rangers forward Patrick Newell said to nobody in particular as he came of the ice.

Kakko said he did not even think about passing the puck as he drove around the net.

“It was a nice goal,” he said. “I (was) remembering my old coach from two years ago, (who said), ‘You know what? Don’t pass,’ and I didn’t.”

Rangers defenseman Adam Fox played against Kakko at the 2019 World Championship, when Kakko played for Finland and Fox for the United States.

Kakko dominated that tournament against players who were sometimes more than 10 years older. He had six goals and an assist for Finland, which finished first.

In Finland’s top professional league, Kakko had 38 points (22 goals, 16 assists) in 45 games for TPS.

Fox said he was excited to being sharing the ice with Kakko as a teammate. The Rangers will play again Tuesday against the St. Louis Blues in the fifth-place game of the tournament (12:30 p.m. ET).

“You look at him and you almost forget that he is 18 and one of the youngest guys here,” Fox said. “Like I said, there is a reason he was taken second overall, there was a reason he did so well at the World Championship. He is a big guy with a lot of skill, and I think he will do just fine in the NHL.”

Kakko (6-foot-3, 195 pounds) experienced some difficult getting going Monday despite playing on the first line with highly touted forwards Vitali Kravtsov and Karl Henriksson. But a five-minute major against Wild forward Drake Pilon with 1:13 remaining in the second period brought Kakko to life.

At 1:06 of the third period, he had the secondary assist on a power-play goal by Kravtsov to get the Rangers rolling. At 2:42, he made a nice cross-ice pass to Kravtsov for the tying goal, again on the power play.

“It is so hard, it is a smaller rink and not like in Finland, so it is a different game,” Kakko said.

Then, with 1:37 remaining, he set up Newell for the tying goal. It was a dominating 20 minutes of hockey and it provided a hint of the youth movement that the Rangers are so excited about, a pipeline that is headlined by Kakko, Kravtsov and Fox.

Kravtsov was a first-round pick (No. 9) by the Rangers at the 2018 Draft.

“Starting at development camp, you kind of saw what those guys could do and you definitely thing about playing with them in the future and the skill they have,” Fox said of Kravtsov and Kakko. “It’s exciting. Just trying to be a part of that in the future going forward is exciting.”

Video courtesy: New York Rangers

Read More

Related articles

Pastrnak might return for Bruins against Hurricanes in Game 4

David Pastrnak could return for the Boston Bruins against the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference First Round at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto on Monday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS, FS-CR, NESN). The forward was on the ice for part of the Bruins’ optional practice Sunday after being ruled unfit to…

Redskins pick up 2020 option on RB Adrian Peterson

Age is but a number for Adrian Peterson. The Washington Redskins picked up an important number — one — as in the option on Peterson’s contract for 2020, the team announced Wednesday. “Adrian Peterson is the epitome of what it means to be a pro in this league,” Redskins coach Ron Rivera said in a…