Rangers’ president shuts down Kaapo Kakko trade rumors

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 came up short once again in 2024, but unlike 2022, when the run to the Eastern Conference Finals felt like a surprise, it truly felt like their year to win it all. The Blueshirts entered the playoffs after a stellar regular season campaign that saw them win not only the Presidents Trophy, but also break the franchise record for points in a season with 114.

The Rangers then easily dispatched the Washington Capitals in round one in four games and closed out the Carolina Hurricanes in six games before falling to the now two-time defending conference champion Florida Panthers. The blue and white now enter the offseason looking to tinker as they attempt to lift Lord Stanley for the first time since 1994 next season.

With fans looking for changes, many have pointed at Kaapo Kakko as a player who needs to go.

Kaapo Kakko has failed to reach his potential

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

The former second-overall pick in the 2019 NHL draft has been viewed largely as a bust and is coming off a disappointing campaign. Despite frequently playing alongside top-end talent like Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider, the 23-year-old scored just 13 goals and registered six assists across 61 games. 

In the postseason, Kakko was even a healthy scratch at one point and had just one goal and one assist across 15 games.

Now that Kakko is set to be a restricted free agent, fans have wondered what the Blueshirts will do with the Finish native, but president and general manager Chris Drury has provided some insight.

The Rangers are committed to Kakko

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

According to Vince Mercogliano of USA Today, Drury had this to say about the future of Kakko:

“We were talking about Laf at this time last year and refuting rumors that I was trying to trade him,” Drury said. “Kaapo Kakko is still a young player… We’re going to continue to try and find everything we can do to help him reach his potential.”

If the Rangers plan to keep Kakko, which all indications dictate they do, another bridge deal for around two to 2.5 million for one to two years is likely in the works in hopes that he can turn things around.

Time will tell if Kakko can turn his tenure in the Big Apple around, but regardless, he looks to be a part of the Rangers’ plans for the 2024-25 campaign.

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