Rangers: Which of the Kids will have the biggest 2023-24 season?

new york rangers, kaapo kakko, rangers, nyr
May 9, 2022; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; New York Rangers right wing Kaapo Kakko (24) skates with the puck against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the third period in game four of the first round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at PPG Paints Arena. The Penguins won 7-2. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

All eyes were on the New York Rangers‘ “Kid Line” following a strong performance in the Eastern Conference Finals in 2022. The line, comprised of Alexis Lafreniere, Filip Chytil, and Kaapo Kakko, made headlines with strong performances throughout that postseason run.

Going into the 2022-23 season, expectations were high. Chytil took a big step forward, delivering an impressive season despite a lack of playing time. However, the others did not fare as well. While they took positive steps forward, Kakko and Lafreniere still lacked the offensive production of former first and second-overall picks. Going into this next season, Lafreniere and Kakko will be getting far more playing time. The only question is, who will make the most of it?

Can Kakko breakout on the Rangers’ first line?

Kakko was solid last season, putting up 40 points and shattering his previous career high of 23. While these are respectable numbers, there is more room for growth and the opportunity is his for the taking.

His chemistry with fellow forwards, Chris Kreider and Mika Zibanejad, was undeniable; but with the rest of the Rangers’ lines struggling to create opportunities, the unit was dismantled before they had a real chance to do damage. This upcoming season, that first-line spot belongs to Kakko. With the increased playing time, Kakko will have an opportunity for a breakout season.

Kakko’s consistent growth

Kakko entered the league as a liability on the defensive end. His 23 points were decent, but the Rangers needed more. In the following two seasons, his defense would improve drastically and he would rank as high as second in the NHL in defensive forwards.

He has put in the effort and adjusted to the North American style of play but has just had some bad breaks and no puck luck. Expect that to change this season, as Kakko should be able to put up 60+ points on the Rangers’ first line. If he is able to do this without sacrificing his stellar defensive play, Kakko could ascend into stardom.

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