In a surprise to few, the Rangers drafted 18 year old Finnish right wing, Kaapo Kakko last night with the second overall pick in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. I say unsurprisingly, because while a few might have hoped for Jack Hughes to be passed over by the Devils, the popular opinion – and it was pretty popular – was that they’d draft the young American, and let Kakko fall to the Rangers.
And as excited as the Rangers – and fans – have been since they were awarded the second overall pick, the team quickly pivoted to expectations setting, with John Davidson leading the way despite being clearly excited about the selection.
But it’s not just the Rangers brass who are sending this message, Larry Brooks added to the chorus with a sobering reminder in today’s New York Post.
The message is simple: He’s only 18 and whatever success – or more importantly, lack of it – will be part of the growing process, and that fans need to be patient.
With all that said, it’s hard not to be excited. Kakko is the highest draft pick since Brad Park – also #2 – back in 1966, that’s just one year shorter than the Rangers’ infamous Cup drought. The young Finn is coming off an impressive performance at the World Championships, and is part of a program that, like the USNTDP, is punching above it’s weight right now.
For my part, I can hardly wait for the Rangers to be competitive again. It’s hard to see them being much of a force this year, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t going to hang on every little success along the way. We all hope, and many expect, Kakko to make the opening roster and begin, what is hoped to be a journey back to the elite over the next few years.
Whether you can bide your time or not, I’ll leave that up to you…but we can’t wait to see him in blue, even if he’s only 18.