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Rangers Get Kakko with No. 2 Overall Pick

Can Kaapo Kakko be as good as the last second-overall pick the Rangers had in hall-of-famer Brad Park?

Friday night in Vancouver, the 2019 National Hockey League (NHL) Draft kicked off with Gary Bettman introducing the New Jersey Devils who would make the first pick of this year’s Draft. Coming into the draft the slick forward Jack Hughes who broke scoring records in the U.S. National Team Development Program (NTDP) was the consensus number-one pick. So, the drama of this year’s draft surrounded who picked Hughes and who got Kaapo who is just as skilled and much bigger. Also, the 19-year-old Fin is fresh-off scoring six goals in the World Championship tournament. Conversely, Hughes had three assists at the World Championships and seemed to have some trouble playing against bigger opponents.

Well, the New Jersey Devils selected Jack Hughes with the number one overall pick. Hughes broke the U.S. NTDP record for career points with 228 and it is no surprise that the Devils went ahead and picked

Immediately after the Devils pick, my thoughts ran to the New York Rangers. I was a little concerned that the Blueshirts-Brass might botch their number-two pick. I remembered the Rangers selecting Lias Andersson seventh-overall in 2017. It is early in the young Swede’s career, but the first-round pick has only scored eight points in 50 NHL games.

The Rangers changed up their front office when they hired famous Ranger broadcaster and player John Davidson. ‘JD’ seems to be changing the culture in Rangers town. Davidson and General Manager Jeff Gorton ran up to the stage to announce the Rangers highest draft pick since Brad Park in 1966. Jeff Gorton had no hesitation when he said, the Rangers select Kaapo Kakko. I could feel Blueshirts nation take a sigh of relief.

Kakko could become the gritty and talented winger that the Rangers have been searching for, since Rick Nash scored 42 goals in 2014-15. Kakko is a big and fast power forward who has great hands like Nash. Furthermore, Kakko can be compared to the Rangers’ best power forward Chris Kreider. Like Kreider, Kakko has size and speed. At 6’2” and 190 lbs., he is already a formidable power forward. The young Fin is already in good shape to handle himself in the fastest league on earth. The question is, can he become a more productive scorer than the Rangers best power forward Chris Kreider?

Kakko is big and fast like Kreider, but because of injuries the 26-year-old Kreider has never scored at the level that many pundits think he is capable of. Last year Kreider scored 28 goals and 24 assists, which is a solid year, but can the Rangers new top-gun exceed those expectations in 2019? Only time will tell, but the Rangers certainly have themselves a legitimate power forward presence in their line-up.

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Anthony has been a sportswriter at In The Zone since Sept. 2019. He graduated from Montclair State, where he was assistant Editor of the student newspaper's sports section. He also co-hosts a sports-themed radio show on the campus station, WMSC 90.3 FM, which was recently named #1 college radio station in the nation.
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