Rangers could trade lackluster depth winger after signing short-term extension

May 11, 2024; Raleigh, North Carolina, USA; New York Rangers right wing Kaapo Kakko (24) skates with the puck against Carolina Hurricanes center Sebastian Aho (20) during the second period in game four of the second round of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs at PNC Arena. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers have their work cut out for them this offseason after another playoff run ended without a Stanley Cup championship. There is speculation on what GM Chris Drury has planned this summer, but signing a top-line winger and moving depth pieces are almost certainly on his list.

The first minor move of the offseason came early Thursday afternoon, but might just be the first step in moving on from a disappointing forward.

Rangers sign Kaapo Kakko to a one-year qualifying offer

New York Rangers right wing Kaapo Kakko (24) skates against the Washington Capitals during the third period at Madison Square Garden
Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Kaapo Kakko was drafted second overall in 2019, and did not impress throughout the entirety of his entry level contract. He was handed a two year bridge deal as a final chance to prove himself, but results remained mostly the same. Kakko had developed into a solid defensive forward for the third line, but his offensive struggles showed no signs of improvement.

Kakko became a restricted free agent once again this summer, but the Blueshirts wasted no time giving him another extension. Thursday afternoon, the Rangers announced that they had signed Kakko to a one-year qualifying offer worth $2.4 million.

Could this signing mean a trade is coming soon?

New York Rangers right wing Kaapo Kakko (24) in action against the Philadelphia Flyers in the first period at Wells Fargo Center
Credit: Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports

After another disappointing year from Kakko, there were rumors about whether or not the former second-overall pick would be returning to New York next season. Signing Kakko to an extension may seem like he’ll be back, but considering he was a restricted free agent, Drury wouldn’t have been able to make a trade until Kakko was officially on the Rangers’ roster.

The short term of this deal is a sign that a trade may be coming at some point this summer. Drury now has the power to move Kakko to another team, who can then extend him for as long as they want. If a trade never happens, the Rangers then only have to worry about Kakko for one more season.

Even if these trade rumors fall through, Kakko’s defensive abilities still remain a valuable asset to the Blueshirts. He may never live up to the expectations of a second-overall pick, but having him on the roster is still a positive. Whether a trade happens or not, the Rangers will surely end up with a win on their handling of Kakko this offseason.

Mentioned in this article:

More about: