Dale Money | June 18th, 2019
As of now, the debate rolls on as to who goes first in the Draft between Kaapo Kakko and Jack Hughes. Kakko is a 6″2 left-handed shooting right winger. You could argue, he is the most complete winger available in this year’s draft. He was able to work his way up through the TPS youth system, going back to 2015 with the U16 squad when he was only 14 years old. He ended his 2018 season with 22 goals and 16 assists in 45 games for TPS.
Those 22 goals ranked him first on his club and were third overall in points scored. It was also the most goals by a teenager in Liiga history as well as the third-best point total by a 17-year-old. Internationally he had a great showing at the IIHF World Championship, which should help his draft stock. Scored six goals and added an assist in ten games, helping Finland win a gold medal at the tournament.
Without a lot of holes in his game, you can really point at, Kakko comes with a great set of skills. Has the vision and maturity that few others in the Draft possess, where he can compete with much more advanced competition. Always seems to be one step ahead of the opponent, he knows where to position himself before the puck gets to him.
Has very good size for an 18-year-old player, which he uses to consistently knock players off the puck. Can handle most pressure situations, he seems to love working hard in the corners. Doesn’t mind taking a few shots, in order to establish his position in front of the net. Has the agility and nimbleness of a cheetah in which to beat defenders to the puck. A true sniper with a wicked wrist shot that can give a goaltender fits, his one-timer isn’t too shabby either.
Kakko declined his invitation to the Scouting Combine, although it won’t affect his draft stock enough to drop him past second overall. Having said that I really don’t think, it is wise to lose out when you are vying for that number one spot come draft day. Especially when you consider, Hughes has been able to spend time with many of the Devils brass through the Combine. On top of the time, he spent playing under General manager Ray Shero with team USA this past May.
He is one of the more psychically dominant players going in the Draft, having spent plenty of time playing against full-grown men, compared to many of his fellow prospects. Should Kakko go second to the New York Rangers, they will be getting one of the better-equipped players coming into the league. A true power forward, with the goal scorers touch. He’ll be a player, they won’t have to wait on to develop and could end up playing meaningful minutes with the team by seasons end.
Check out our other NHL Draft Profiles: Alex Turcotte| Victor Soderstrom|Dylan Cozens|Bowen Byram|Ryan Suzuki
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