Kaapo Kakko

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2019 NHL Draft tracker: Rounds 2-7

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The first round of the 2019 NHL draft was a quiet one in terms of transactions, with only one trade being made (The Arizona Coyotes moving up from 14 to 11 in a trade with the Philadelphia Flyers). With six rounds go to on Day 2 there is sure to be more activity. While top picks Jack Hughes and Kaapo Kakko will dominate the headlines in this year’s class, there are still some potential impact players available when Round 2 begins on Saturday.

Here are some of the best players available at the start of the second round.

Following along with our 2019 NHL draft tracker for all of the picks.

Here are some of the top stories from Round 1 of the draft.

Round 2

32. Ottawa Senators — Shane Pinto, forward, Tri-City Storm
33. Los Angeles Kings — Arthur Kaliyev, forward, Hamilton Bulldogs

This looks like a potentially great pick for the Kings. Kaliyev was a potential first-round talent that scored 51 goals this past season as a 17-year-old in the OHL.

34. Philadelphia Flyers (from New Jersey — From Nashville) — Bobby Brink, forward, USHL

Skating concerns dropped him down the draft.

35. Detroit Red Wings — Antti Tuomisto, defender, Finland
36. Carolina Hurricanes (from Buffalo) — Pyotr Kochetkov, goalie, Russia
37. Ottawa Senators (from New York Rangers — from Carolina) — Mads Sogaard, goalie, Medicine Hat Tigers

38. Edmonton Oilers — Raphael Lavoie, forward, Halifax Mooseheads

Lavoie was expected to go higher than this, but falls to the Oilers in the second round.

39. Anaheim Ducks — Jackson Lacombe, defender, Shattuck St. Mary’s.
40. Vancouver Canucks — Nils Hoglander, forward, Sweden
41. Vegas Golden Knights (from Philadelphia — From San Jose) — Kaedan Korczak, defense, Kelowna Rockets
42. Minnesota Wild — Vladislav Firstov, forward, Waterloo Black Hawks
43. Chicago Blackhawks — Alex Vlasic, defender, USHL

He is the cousin of San Jose Sharks defender Marc-Edouard Vlasic.

44. Carolina Hurricanes (from Florida — From San Jose — From Ottawa) — Jameison Rees, forward, Sarnia Sting
45. Nashville Predators (from Arizona Coyotes — From Philadelphia Flyers) — Egor Afanasyev, forward, Muskegon Lumberjacks
46. Montreal Canadiens — Jayden Struble, defender, St. Sebastiens School
47. Colorado Avalanche — Drew Helleson, defender, U.S. National Development team
48. San Jose Sharks (From Vegas) — Artemi Kniazev, defender, Chicoutimi Saguenéens
49. NY Rangers (from Dallas) — Matthew Robertson, defender, Edmonton Oil Kings
50. Los Angeles Kings (from Columbus — from Vegas — From Montreal) — Samuel Fagemo, forward, Sweden
51. Winnipeg Jets — Simon Lundmark, defender, Sweden
52. Florida Panthers (from Pittsburgh) — Vladislav Kolyachonok, defender, Flint Firebirds
53. Toronto Maple Leafs — Nic Robertson, forward, Peterborough Petes

This is the Maple Leafs’ first pick of the 2019 NHL draft.

54. Detroit Red Wings (from New York Islanders — From Vegas) — Robert Mastrosimone, forward, USHL
55. San Jose Sharks (from Nashville — from New Jersey) — Dillon Hamaliuk, forward, Seattle Thunderbirds
56. Washington Capitals — Brett Leason, forward, Prince Albert Raiders
57. New York Islanders (from Calgary) — Samuel Bolduc, defender, Blainville-Boisbriand Armada
58. New York Rangers (from Tampa Bay) — Karl Henriksson, forward, Sweden
59. Minnesota Wild (from Carolina) — Hunter Jones, goalie, Peterborough Petes
60. Detroit Red Wings (from San Jose) — Albert Johansson, defender, Sweden
61. New Jersey Devils (from Boston) — Nikita Okhotyuk, defender, Ottawa 67s
62. St. Louis Blues — Nikita Alexandrov, forward, Charlottetown Islanders

Round 3

63. Colorado (from OTT) — Matthew Steinburg, forward, St. Andrews College
64. Montreal (from LAK) — Mattias Norlinder, defenseman, MODO Hockey
65. Nashville Predators (from New Jersey Devils — From Edmonton Oilers — From Philadelphia Flyers) — Alexander Campbell, forward, Victoria Grizzlies
66. Detroit — Albin Grewe, forward, Djurgårdens IF
67. Buffalo (conditional to PIT) — Erik Portillo, goalie, 
68. NY Rangers — Zachary Jones, defenseman, UMass (Amherst)
69. Florida (from EDM) — John Ludvig, defensemen, Portland Winterhawks
70. New Jersey (from ANA) — Danil Misyul, defenseman, Loko Yaroslavl
71. Tampa Bay Lightning (from VAN) — Hugo Alnefelt, goalie, HV71 J20
72. Philadelphia — Ronald Attard, defensemen, Tri-City Storm

Player of the year in the USHL in 2018-19, had 30 goals, 34 assists in 48 games.

73. Carolina Hurricanes (from MIN) — Patrik Puistola, forward, Tappara
74. Pittsburgh (from ARI — from CHI) — Nathan Legare, forward, Baie-Comeau Drakkar

Scored 45 goals in 68 games in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League last season.

75. Minnesota (from NSH — from FLA) — Adam Beckman, forward, Spokane Chiefs
76. Arizona — John Farinacci, forward, Dexter School
77. Montreal — Gianni Fairbrother, defenseman, Evertt Silvertips
78. Colorado — Alex Beaucage, forward, Rouyn-Noranda Huskies
79. Vegas — Pavel Dorofeyev, forward, Stalnye Lisy Magnitogorsk
80. New Jersey (from DAL) —  Graeme Clarke, forward, Ottawa 67s

81. Florida (from CBJ) —  Cole Schwindt, forward, Mississauga Steelheads
82. New Jersey (from WPG — VKG — SJS — NSH) —  Michael Vukojevic, defenseman, Kitchener Rangers
83. Carolina Hurricanes (from Pittsburgh- From Vegas — From Ottawa) — Anttoni Honka, defenseman, Mikkelin Jukurit

Brother of Julius Honka of the Dallas Stars

84. Toronto — Mikko Kokkonen, defenseman, Mikkelin Jukurit
85. Edmonton (from NYI) — Ilya Konovalov, goalie, Yaroslavl
86. Vegas (from NSH) — Layton Ahac, defenseman, Prince George Cougars
87. Los Angeles (from WSH) — Lukas Parik, goalie, Liberec Jr. 
88. Calgary — Ilya Nikolaev, forward, Yaroslavl 2
89. Tampa Bay — Maxim Cajkovic, forward, Saint John Sea Dogs
90. Carolina — Domenick Fensore, defenseman, U.S. National Development team

The 11th player selected from the USNTDP in 2019

91. Washington (from SJS — NSH — NJD) — Aliaksei Protas, forward, Prince Albert Raiders
92. Boston — Quinn Olson, forward, Okotoks Oilers
93. St. Louis — Colten Ellis, goalie, Rimouski Oceanic

Round 4

94. Ottawa Senators — Viktor Lodin, forward, Sweden
95. Los Angeles Kings — Jordan Spence, defender, Moncton Wildcats
96. New Jersey Devils — Tyce Thompson, forward, Providence College
97. Detroit Red Wings — Ethan Phillips, forward, Sioux Fall Stampade
98. Arizona Coyotes (from Pittsburgh) — Matias Macceli, forward, Dubuque Fighting Saints 
99. Carolina Hurricanes (from New York Rangers — Boston Bruins — Minnesota Wild) — Cade Webber, defender, USHL
100. Edmonton Oilers — Matej Blummel, forward, Waterloo Blackhawks
101. Anaheim Ducks — Henry Thurn, defender, USHL
102. Buffalo Sabres (from Vancouver) — Aaron Huglen, forward, Fargo Force
103. Philadelphia Flyers — Mason Millman, defender, Saginaw Spirit
104. Columbus Blue Jackets — Eric Hjorth, defender, Sweden
105. Chicago Blackhawks — Michal Teply, forward, Czech Republic
106. Florida Panthers — Carter Berger, defender, Victoria Grizzlies
107. Arizona Coyotes — Alexandr Darin, forward
108. San Jose Sharks (from Montreal) — Yegor Spiridonov, forward, Russia
109. Nashville Predators (from Colorado) — Marc Del Gaizo, defender, UMASS
110. Vegas Golden Knights — Ryder Donovan, forward, USHL
111. Dallas Stars — Samuel Sjolund, defender, Sweden
112. New York Rangers (from Columbus) — Hunter Skinner, defender, USHL
113. Winnipeg Jets — Henrik Nikkanen, forward, Finland
114. Columbus Blue Jackets (from Pittsburgh — From Florida) — Dmitri Voronkov, Russia 
115. Toronto Maple Leafs — Mikhail Abramov, forward, Victoriaville Tigers
116. Calgary Flames (from New York Islanders) — Lucas Feuk, forward, Sweden
117. Nashville Predators — Semyon Chystyakov, defender, Russia
118. New Jersey Devils (from Washington) — Case McCarthy, defender, US National Development Team 
119. Los Angeles Kings (from Calgary – Montreal) — Kim Nousianien, defender, Finland
120. Tampa Bay Lightning — Maxwell Crozier, defender, Sioux Falls Stampede
121. Carolina Hurricanes — Tuukka Tieksola, forward, Finland
122. Vancouver Canucks — Ethan Keppen, forward, Flint Firebirds
123. Chicago Blackhawks (from Boston) — Antti Saarela, forward, Finland
124. Toronto Maple Leafs (from St. Louis) — Nicolas Abruzzse, forward, USHL

Round 5

125. Ottawa — Mark Kastelic, forward, Calgary Hitmen
126. Montreal (from LAK) — Jacob Leguerrier, defensemen, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
127. New Jersey — Cole Brady, goalie, Janesville Jets
128. Detroit — Cooper Moore, defenseman, Brunswick Prep
129. New Jersey (from BUF-DET-WSH) — Arseny Gritsyuk, forward, OMSK 2
130. NY Rangers — Leevi Aaltonen, forward, Kalpa Jr. 
131. Montreal (from EDM) — Rhett Pitlick, forward, Chaska
132. Anaheim — Trevor Janicke, forward, Central Illinois 
133. Vancouver — Carson Focht, forward, Calgary Hitmen
134. Winnipeg (from PHI) — Harrison Blaisdell, forward, Chilliwack
135. Vegas (from MIN) — Isaiah Saville, goalie, Tri-City Storm
136. Florida (from CHI — MTL) — Henrik Rybinski, forward, Seattle Thunderbirds
137. Florida — Owen Lindmark, forward, US National Development Team 
138. Montreal (from ARI-CHI-LAK) — Frederik Nissen Dichow, goalie, Vojens
139. Vegas (from MTL) — Marcus Kallionkieli, forward, Sioux City Musketeers
140. Colorado — Sasha Mutala, forward, Tri-City Americans
141. Vegas — Mason Primeau, forward, North Bay Battalion
142. Dallas — Nicholas Porco, forward, Saginaw Spirit
143. Buffalo (from CBJ — DET) — Filip Cederqvist, forward, Vaxjo
144. Winnipeg — Logan Neaton, goalie, Prince George
145. Pittsburgh (from CHI) — Judd Caulfield, forward, US National Development Team 
146. Toronto — Michael Koster, defenseman, Chaska
147. NY Islanders — Reece Newkirk, forward, Portland Winterhawks
148. Nashville — Ethan Haider, goalie, MN Magicians
149. Minnesota (from WSH-MTL) — Matvey Guskov, forward, London Knights
150. Calgary — Joshua Nodler, forward, Fargo Force
151. Arizona (from TBL — CHI) –Aku Raty, forward, Karpat Jr. 
152. Carolina — Kirill Slepets, forward, Yaroslavl 2
153. Washington (from SJS) — Martin Has, defenseman, Tappara Jr. 
154. Boston — Roman Bychkov, defenseman, Yaroslavl 2
155. St. Louis — Keean Washkurak, forward, Mississauga Steelheads

Round 6

156. Vancouver Canucks (from Ottawa) — Arturs Silov, goalie, Latvia 
157. Los Angeles Kings — Braden Doyle, defender, USHL
158. New Jersey Devils — Patrick Moynihan, forward, USHL
159. Detroit Red Wings — Elmer Soderblom, forward, Sweden
160. Buffalo Sabres — Lukas Rousek, forward, Czech Republic
161. New York Rangers — Adam Edstrom, forward, Sweden
162. Edmonton Oilers — Tomas Mazura, forward, Kimball Union Academy
163. Anaheim Ducks — William Francis, defender, USHL
164. San Jose Sharks (from Vancouver) — Timur Ibragimov, forward, Russia
165. Philadelphia Flyers — Egor Serdyuk, forward, Victoriaville Tigers
166. Minnesota Wild — Marshall Warren, defender, US National Development Team 
167. Chicago Blackhawks — Dominic Basse, goalie, Selects Hockey Academy
168. Florida Panthers — Greg Meireles, forward, Kitchener Rangers
169. Philadelphia Flyers (from Arizona) — Roddy Ross, goalie, Camrose Kodiaks
170. Montreal Canadiens — Arsen Khisamutdinov, forward, Russia
171. Colorado Avalanche — Luka Burzan, forward, Brandon Wheat Kings
172. Minnesota Wild (from Vegas) — Nikita Nestrerenko, forward
173. Dallas Stars — Benjamin Brinkman, defender, University of Minnesota
174. Arizona  Coyotes (from Columbus) — Daniel Savunov, forward,
175. Vancouver Canucks (from Winnipeg – From Buffalo) — Karel Plasek, forward, Czech Republic
176. Arizona Coyotes (from Pittsburgh) — Anthony Romano, center, Sioux Fall Stampede
177. Detroit Red Wings (from Toronto – Detroit) Gustav Berglund, defender, Sweden
178. New York Islanders — Felix Bibeau, forward, Rouyn-Noranda Huskies 
179. Nashville Predators — Isak Walther, forward, Sweden
180. Vancouver Canucks (from Washington) — Jack Malone, forwards, Youngstown Phantoms
181. Carolina Hurricanes (from Calgary) — Kevin Wall, forward, Chilliwack Chiefs
182. Tampa Bay Lightning — Quinn Schmiemann, defender, Kamloops Blazers
183. Carolina Hurricanes — Blake Murray, forward, Sudbury Wolves
184. San Jose Sharks — Santeri Hatakka, defender, Finland
185. Boston Bruins — Matias Mantykivi, center, Finland
186. Anaheim Ducks — Mathew Hill, forward, Barrie Colts 

Round 7

187. Ottawa — Maxence Guenette, defenseman, Val-d’Or Foreurs
188. Los Angeles — Andre Lee, forward, Sioux Falls Stampede
189. New Jersey — Nikola Pasic, forward, Linkoping Jr. 
190. Detroit — Kirill Tyutyayev, forward, Yekaterinburg 2
191. Detroit (from BUF) — Carter Gylander, forward, Sherwood Park
192. Boston (from NYR) — Jake Schmaltz, forward, Chicago Steel
193. Edmonton — Maxim Denezhkin, forward, Yaroslavl 2
194. Chicago (from ANA) — Cole Moberg, defenseman, Prince George Cougars
195. Vancouver — Aidan Mcdonough, forward, Cedar Rapids Roughriders
196. Philadelphia — Bryce Brodzinski, forward, Blaine
197. Minnesota — Filip Lindberg. goalie, UMass
198. Tampa Bay (from CHI) — Mikhail Shalagin, forward, Spartak 2
199. Florida — Matthew Wedman, forward, Seattle Thunderbirds
200. Arizona — Axel Bergkvist, defenseman, Leksand Jr. 
201. Montreal (from MTL — PHI) — Rafael Harvey-Pinard, forward, Rouyn-Noranda Huskies
202. Colorado — Trent Miner, goalie, Vancouver Giants
203. Pittsburgh (from VGK) — Valtteri Puustinen, forward, HPK
204. Toronto (from DAL) — Kalle Loponen, defenseman, Hermes
205. NY Rangers (from CBJ) — Eric Ciccolini, forward, Toronto JC
206. Montreal (from WPG) — Kieran Ruscheinski, defenseman, Calgary Northstars Midget AAA
207. Arizona (from PIT) — Valentin Nussbaumer, forward, Shawinigan Cataractes
208. St. Louis (from TOR) — Vadim Zherenko, goalie, Dynamo Moscow 2
209. NY Islanders — Cole Coskey, forward, Saginaw Spirit
210. Nashville — Juuso Parssinen, forward, TPS Jr. 
211. Pittsburgh (from WSH — SJS) — Santeri Airola, defenseman, Saipa Jr. 
212. Columbus (from CGY-OTT) — Tyler Angle, forward, Windsor Spitfire
213. Tampa Bay — Mckade Webster, forward, Green Bay Gamblers
214. Calgary (from CAR) — Dustin Wolf, goalie, Everett Silvertips
215. Vancouver (from SJS) — Arvid Costmar, forward, Linkoping Jr.
216. Carolina (from BOS-NYR) — Massimo Rizzo, forward, Penticton
217. St. Louis — Jeremy Michel, forward, Val-d’Or Foreurs

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Devils-Rangers rivalry gets boost thanks to Hughes, Kakko

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VANCOUVER — Jack Hughes and Kaapo Kakko will be linked together for the rest of their careers after they were the top two picks in the 2019 NHL Draft Friday at Rogers Arena. Not only will the comparisons and debates about their play go on for years, they are now in the middle of a longtime rivalry between the New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers.

“I was thinking about that this morning. And how good is that?,” said Rangers president John Davidson. “Rivalries across the river. It’s going to be talked about for a long, long, long time. I think that’s just the greatest. It’s fantastic. I think that’s what hockey needs.”

The No. 1 and No. 2 selections in the draft only met for the first time before Thursday’s top prospects media availability, but they’ll see plenty of one another as Metropolitan Division rivals. There’s no love lost when the Devils and Rangers get together, but after a few down years for the franchises this is an injection of buzz that the rivalry needed.

“They’ll be linked together. I think it’s great for the NHL, but it’s great for us,” said Devils general manager Ray Shero. “A couple years ago you had Auston Matthew and Patrik Laine. They’re great players but one’s in Toronto, one’s in Winnipeg, they play each other twice a year. Then you’ve got Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel, they’re great players. One’s in Edmonton, one’s in Buffalo, they play twice a year.

“This is kind of spicy, you know? So we look forward to it. The competition’s great. … For the Rangers and Devils fans, it should  be really good. That’s what we’re hoping for and we’re hoping it’s just a little bit better for the Devils.”

While the talk for years will be Jack vs. Kakko, the hockey world pitting those two against one another won’t be a factor that fuels Hughes to succeed.

“I don’t think I need any extra motivation,” said Hughes during the Stanley Cup Final. “Once you get to that level you’re in the NHL. You’re playing [Sidney] Crosby, you’re playing [Ryan] O’Reilly, you’re playing unbelievable players every night. For me, it’ll just be a lot of fun to be linked with [Kakko] for a lot of years.”

MORE:
New Jersey Devils take Jack Hughes with No. 1 overall pick
Rangers select Kaapo Kakko with second overall pick
USA Hockey big winner of Round 1
2019 NHL Draft tracker — Round 1

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Rangers select Kaapo Kakko with second overall pick

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VANCOUVER — Kaapo Kakko will be the center of the New York Rangers’ youth movement after he was selected second overall during the 2019 NHL Draft Friday night in Vancouver.

The 6-foot-2, 187 lbs. Kakko, who was the top international skater in NHL Central Scouting’s final rankings, finished sixth in scoring in Finland’s Liiga this past season with 22 goals and 38 points in 45 games. Those 22 goals broke Aleksander Barkov‘s league record (21) for a U18 player.

Kakko was also the hero of the 2019 World Junior Championship after scoring the gold medal-winning goal in overtime against the United States. He also led his country to gold at the U-18 World Championship and the senior men’s World Championship where every game he seemed to put on a show.

Kakko, 18, was projected to be the No. 2 pick following American center Jack Hughes, who was taken first overall by the New Jersey Devils. Ending up in the second spot put the Rangers in a “no-lose” situation as new team president John Davidson put it last month. Their decision was going to be made by their rivals in New Jersey and either way they were going to land a promising player.

“These are the types of players that could help define a franchise,” Davidson said. “You have to make sure the timing is right, make sure they’re ready, etc. But I think every Ranger fan should have a smile on their face at picking No. 2.”

Along with Filip Chytil, Lias Andersson, Adam Fox, and Vitaly Kravtsov, among others, Kakko is another piece for general manager Jeff Gorton to add as the franchise transitions to get younger. With two more years remaining on Henrik Lundqvist’s contract, it’s not a complete rebuild, which could signal an aggressive summer in free agency and the trade market.

MORE: Kakko ready to make NHL leap next season

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Shero has a Devil of an NHL draft decision: Hughes or Kakko

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — New Jersey Devils general manager Ray Shero doesn’t mind keeping everyone waiting one more day before revealing whether he will select one of the two top projected prospects – American center Jack Hughes or Finland’s Kaapo Kakko – with the first pick in the NHL draft.

What Shero would concede Thursday was his decision having the potential of spicing up New Jersey’s ever-healthy cross-river and Metropolitan Division rivalry with the New York Rangers, who are picking second when the draft opens in Vancouver on Friday night.

”What we’ve got to do is what’s best for the Devils right now,” Shero said. ”Knowing that the team picking No. 2 in this case is in our division, they’re going to get a great player as well.”

If that places a heavier burden on his shoulders, well, that’s fine with Shero.

”It really doesn’t bother me. Some people say the Rangers and Jeff Gorton are in the best spot,” Shero said, referring to the Rangers GM. ”I mean, I’m picking No. 1, so I’m in the best spot, I think.”

For his part, Gorton doesn’t mind the suspense.

”We’re sitting there and obviously one team’s going to indicate to us exactly how it might go for the rest of the draft. I think we’re in a good spot,” Gorton said. ”We know that we’re going to get a really good player no matter what happens to us.”

In a draft that has the potential of featuring a record number of Americans taken in the first round, Shero’s decision rests on choosing between an under-sized play-making center in Hughes or the heftier Kakko, who is considered a purer goal-scorer.

Shero has met with both players over dinner, including traveling to Helsinki, Finland, to meet with Kakko. And though he has a good idea which player the Devils will select, Shero was waiting until Thursday night to make his recommendation to team owners Josh Harris and David Blitzer.

In many ways, the decision is similar to the one Shero faced three years ago, the last time the Devils had the first pick. In 2017, Shero selected Switzerland center Niko Hischier, while New Jersey’s division-rival Philadelphia Flyers took Nolan Patrick.

At 5-foot-10 and 170, pounds Hughes is NHL Central Scouting’s top-ranked North American prospect. He set a USA Hockey development program record by combining for 228 points (74 goals, 154 assists) over his two-year stint. From Orlando, Florida, he’s in position to become the eighth U.S.-born player selected No. 1 and first since Toronto took Auston Matthews in 2016.

At 6-foot-2 and 190 pounds, Kakko is the top-ranked European skater. He completed a season in which he helped his nation complete a gold-medal sweep of international titles by winning the world championship last month along with the world junior and under-18 titles. Kakko’s 22 goals in 45 games were a Finnish Elite League record by a draft-eligible player.

Though he was only formally introduced to Kakko for the first time this weekend, Hughes understands the two will draw comparisons for years to come.

”You saw (Alexander) Ovechkin and (Sidney) Crosby all these years,” Hughes said, referring to the long-time Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins captains. ”I’m not saying we’re going to be Ovechkin and Crosby, but I’m saying it’s going to be pretty cool to be linked with him.”

The top of the draft features a wide mix of talent varying in size and speed. Defenseman Bowen Byram is ranked second among North Americans followed by center Kirby Dach. Then follows a large cluster of Hughes’ USA Hockey teammates, including centers Alex Turcotte and Trevor Zegras and 5-foot-7 forward Cole Caufield, who set a program record with 72 goals last season.

The NTDP list of potential first-round selections are rounded out by left winger Matthew Boldy, defenseman Cameron York and Spencer Knight, the top-ranked North American goalie.

With Hughes and Kakko expected to be off the board, the real intrigue should begin with Chicago picking third after the Blackhawks bucked the draft lottery odds to jump from the 12th spot in the draft order.

”There seems to be an understanding of how those firsts two picks will go, though you never know until it happens,” Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman said. ”But we’re going to pick one of three players. … We’re not going to be cramming last minute. I think we’re going to be very comfortable with the guy that we pick.”

Colorado follows with the fourth pick, leaving Avalanche amateur scouting director Alan Hepple interested in who the Blackhawks might select.

”I told Joe just to go ask them,” Hepple said, referring to Avalanche GM Joe Sakic. ”We’ve got a few guys targeted. We know what we have.”

NOTES: Knight has the potential of becoming the 10th American-born goalie selected in the first round and first since Dallas chose Jake Oettinger with the 26th pick in 2017. … The record for most American-born players selected in the first round is 12, in 2016. … Center Dylan Cozens, ranked fifth among North Americans, has the chance to become the first player born in Canada’s Yukon Territory selected in the first round.

AP Hockey Writers Stephen Whyno and Larry Lage, and sports writers Tim Booth and Pat Graham contributed to this story.

More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

NHL Draft: Kakko ready to make NHL leap next season

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VANCOUVER — Kaapo Kakko has not been to New York City but has heard all about it, especially after the NHL Draft Lottery when it became clear he would be going No. 2 overall to the New York Rangers.

While he is friendly with Rangers goaltender Alexandar Georgiev after playing with him with TPS of Finland’s Liiga, the 18-year-old winger knows one thing about the Big Apple.

“I think it’s so nice. It’s a nice city,” Kakko said during Thursday’s NHL Draft Top Prospects media availability. “It’s a little bit bigger than [my hometown of] Turku.”

Kakko has worked on improving his English ahead of an NHL career that will more than likely begin in September. Movies and television have helped, as well as playing with former NHLer and TPS teammate Lauri Korpikoski.

When Kakko arrives in New York City next season, he’ll only be a short drive away from Jack Hughes, who is likely to be selected by the New Jersey Devils with the top pick Friday night (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN; livestream). The two forwards have been the consensus top two in projections all season long. Now they’ll be linked together for the rest of their careers.

[Rotoworld’s 2019 Mock Draft]

Kakko, who will become the seventh Finnish-born player all-time to be selected in top three, spent his draft year wowing the hockey world and just winning. In January he scored the gold medal-winning goal — at Vancouver’s Rogers Arena, no less — to top Hughes and the U.S. at the World Junior Championship. Four months later, he scored six times in 10 games to help Finland win gold at the World Championship. Toss in gold at the U-18 World Championship in April 2018, and it’s been quite a successful run for him.

This past season with TPS he scored 22 goals and recorded 38 points in 45 games. Those 22 goals set a Liiga record by a U18 player, which was previously held by Aleksander Barkov (21).

“If New Jersey wants a winner, they should pick Kaapo,” said Finnish national team head coach Jukka Jalonen to the New York Times last month. “Hughes is a great player as well, but in the important games, Kakko has always been better. He is already playing like a man. He could play in the NHL right now, and in a few months, he will be even better. After a few years, he will be one of the best players in the world.”

Kakko, who said he wants to add strength to his 6-foot-2, 194 lbs. frame this summer, has always played against older competition and excelled. That experience has prepped him to make the transition to the NHL as soon as the 2019-20 season, which will fit in nicely with the rebuild plans of the Rangers.

“That’s my plan, my goal, to be in NHL next [season],” Kakko said.

NBC Sports presents live, exclusive coverage of first round of the 2019 NHL Draft this Friday, June 21, at 8 p.m. ET on NBCSN. Coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. ET with NHL Live.

MORE 2019 NHL DRAFT COVERAGE:
Jack Hughes and the impact of USA Hockey
Dylan Cozens eager to make Yukon hockey history

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.