Kaapo Kakko will likely wind up with the New York Rangers as the No. 2 overall pick in next month’s NHL Draft in Vancouver. On Friday, he showed why New Jersey Devils general manager Ray Shero should have second thoughts about going with Jack Hughes with the top selection.
During Finland’s 3-1 win over Canada in their opening game of the 2019 IIHF World Championship, the 18-year-old forward scored twice, including this highlight-reel goal in the first period.
“A quick-thinking winger, Kakko never seems to be in a rush. He reads the game exceptionally well and finds himself a step ahead while the play is still developing.”
As soon as the Thomas Chabot turnover lands on Arttu Ilomaki’s stick, Kakko takes off up ice as he sees how the play is developing. Toni Rajala’s touch pass then sends Kakko through Chabot while Brandon Montour takes a penalty in an attempt to stop him. Then the young Finnish forward shows off his edge work and smoothly beats Matt Murray for the opening goal.
The top prospect was later out on the ice as Finland defended their 2-1 lead late in the third period. Kakko, who was named “Player of the Game,” created a turnover and then finished off Canada with an empty-netter to complete his memorable night.
Kakko is eyeing history during the 2019 Worlds. If Finland wins the tournament, he would be the youngest player to ever win gold at the U18, U20 and senior World Championships.
2019 NHL DRAFT FIRST-ROUND ORDER
1. New Jersey Devils
2. New York Rangers
3. Chicago Blackhawks
4. Colorado Avalanche (from Ottawa Senators)
5. Los Angeles Kings
6. Detroit Red Wings
7. Buffalo Sabres
8. Edmonton Oilers
9. Anaheim Ducks
10. Vancouver Canucks
11. Philadelphia Flyers
12. Minnesota Wild
13. Florida Panthers
14. Arizona Coyotes
15. Montreal Canadiens
16. Colorado Avalanche
17. Vegas Golden Knights
18. Dallas Stars
19. Ottawa Senators (from Columbus Blue Jackets)
20. New York Rangers (from Winnipeg Jets)
21. Pittsburgh Penguins
22. Los Angeles Kings (from Toronto Maple Leafs)
23. New York Islanders
24. Nashville Predators
25. Washington Capitals
26. Calgary Flames
27. Tampa Bay Lightning
28. Conference final losing team with fewest points
29. Conference final losing team with most points
30. Stanley Cup Final losing team
31. Stanley Cup winner
When Connor McDavid returned to the Edmonton Oilers’ lineup on Sunday night and opened the game between Sam Gagner and Alex Chiasson it was painfully obvious they needed to get another winger.
They ended up getting two on Monday when they acquired Andreas Athanasiou (and Ryan Kuffner) from the Detroit Red Wings in exchange for Gagner and two second-round draft picks.
Oilers general manager Ken Holland drafted Athanasiou during his time in Detroit, so there is that obvious connection here.
Just about an hour after that the trade the Oilers also acquired Tyler Ennis from the Ottawa Senators for a fifth-round draft pick.
The Athanasiou one is so intriguing because it seems like it has the potential to be a strong fit. He is one of the few players in the league that actually has the speed to keep up with McDavid, and could create one of the fastest forward duos in the league. After scoring 30 goals a year ago for the Red Wings, Athanasiou has 10 goals in 46 games this season. Now he might get an opportunity to play next to the best offensive player in the world.
He is a restricted free agent after this season.
The Oilers are three points out of first place in the Pacific Division, trailing only the Vegas Golden Knights. Edmonton still has two games in hand.
This is the second trade between the two teams in less than 12 hours after the Oilers also acquired Mike Green from the Red Wings on Sunday night.
Ennis, meanwhile, is an unrestricted free agent after this season. In 61 games for the Senators this season he has 14 goals and 19 assists.
Well, here is the most unexpected trade on deadline day (so far).
The Buffalo Sabres, who entered the day six points out of a playoff spot and with multiple teams ahead of them, sent a conditional fifth-round draft pick to the New Jersey Devils for veteran forward Wayne Simmonds.
That pick will become a fourth-round pick if the Sabres make the playoffs this season and Simmonds plays at least 10 games.
Simmonds is an unrestricted free agent after this season.
There is nothing wrong with the cost here for Simmonds. It’s probably about what his value should be in this market and given what he currently provides. Plus, a mid-round pick has very little chance of even turning into an NHL player, let alone an impactful one. But it’s still surprising to see a team in Buffalo’s position attempt to add something at the deadline.
Is it a last-minute effort for general manager Jason Botterill to try and do something to save his job? Or is it a team looking at what happened with St. Louis and Columbus a year ago and thinking, “hey, we can do that too!” If it’s the former, well, that’s understandable. The pressure is on to win in Buffalo and patience is running thin with everyone. If it’s the latter, that would simply be a gross misunderstanding of what happened with those teams (especially St. Louis).
The 31-year-old Simmonds has eight goals and 16 assists for the Devils this season. At his peak he was one of the best power forwards in the league and a true force as a net-front presence on the power play, but his production has rapidly fallen off the past two years.
Buffalo has played much better in February (7-3-1) but has only managed to gain four points in the standings during that stretch. They still have six points to make up and only 20 games to do it. They would not only need to maintain that similar level of play, but also get some help along the way.
Some massive news from the New York Rangers on Monday as team president John Davidson announced a seven-year contract extension for winger Chris Kreider, removing one of the biggest names from the trade market just hours before the deadline.
Kreider re-signing with the Rangers was always a possibility, but the longer it went on without a new deal (or talks of any kind) the less likely it seemed to be. But this was clearly something the two sides wanted and they were able to find a common ground on a new deal.
It is reportedly worth around $6.5 million per season.
It is a pricey contract for sure, and with Kreider already being 28 years old there is some real long-term risk down the line. But in the short-term Kreider remains a significant part of a Rangers’ core that has made significant progress over the past couple of months. They may not be able to do enough to get in the playoffs this season, but they are certainly on track to be a serious factor in that race next season.
Kreider is in the middle of a career year for the Rangers and has always been a lock for around 20 goals and 50 points while bringing a ton of speed to the top of the lineup.
The Boston Bruins, Colorado Avalanche, and St. Louis Blues were all thought to be potential suitors if he were to be traded.
According to Davidson, Shesterkin was driving when a vehicle did a U-turn in front of them resulting in the collision.
Fortunately both players were wearing seatbelts at the time of the accident.
Buchnevich was “quite shaken up” according to Davidson, but will only be out of the lineup on a day-to-day basis.
Shesterkin has a non-displaced rib fracture and will be re-evaluated in two weeks.
Shesterkin has emerged as the Rangers’ starting goalie in recent weeks and has a 9-1-0 record with a .940 save percentage since his re-call. His performance has been one of the biggest factors in the Rangers’ recent hot streak that has seen them climb back to within striking distance of a playoff spot this season.
The Rangers are currently carrying three goaltenders, while Alexander Georgiev and Henrik Lundqvist will take over the goaltending duties in Shesterkin’s absence.