It’s time for Kaapo Kakko to turn strong games into goals on the scoresheet for Rangers

kaapo kakko
Oct 12, 2019; New York, NY, USA; New York Rangers right wing Kaapo Kakko (24) skates up ice during the second period against the Edmonton Oilers at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Kaapo Kakko has it all. Size, speed, skill, and a hard shot.

What he doesn’t have for all his recent strong performances are the goals and points that lead to wins for his team. Simply put, Kakko needs to start burying his chances as a top six winger is expected to.

Kaapo Kakko needs to find that next level

There’s a lot that goes into the success of any player, at any age. How much ice time is that player getting, who are his line mates, and is that individual getting PP time.

While Kakko is just 20 years old, he’s played in 83 NHL games. And yes, last season David Quinn was moving him around the lineup to get comfortable and find his game. This year Kakko has been featured on the top two lines most of the season.

Kakko currently has just two goals and two assists in 17 games this season. For all the strong board play, skilled moves, and hard shots he’s not burying the puck past the goalie. And if we are being fair, his season has been disrupted twice due to COVID related issues.

Of course, he still needs to start producing more.

Kakko needs a strong stretch of points to boost his confidence

kaapo kakko covid
Bruce Bennett /POOL PHOTOS-USA TODAY Sports

So far in Kakko’s young and promising career he’s had one 3 game point scoring streak and two 2 game scoring streaks. His best stretch came early in the 2019-2020 season.

  • 11/10/19 – 1 Goal vs FL
  • 11/12/19 – 2 Goals vs PIT
  • 11/20/19 – 2 Assists vs WSH

After he scored those 2 goals against Pittsburgh he went 19 games without a goal. Then after notching one he went 14 games followed by 15 games after a tally. Tough stretches for the rookie without a doubt.

This season he has not had a single point streak of any kind and no multi-point games. It’s not for a lack of trying as he’s shooting the puck more.

In his rookie year, there was genuine concern for a skilled power forward who didn’t appear to want to shoot. He averaged 1.65 shots per game on 2.96 attempts. Thus far his shot numbers have improved to 2.11 on goal per game and attempting 3.41 on average.

I say he needs to shoot even more.

Kakko should watch film of fellow Finn Patrik Laine

While Kakko is not as big, there is a lot in Patrik Laine’s game I could see the younger Finn be successful emulating. One thing in particular is Laine’s desire to shoot the puck.

This season, it’s taken Laine a little longer to get back up to form with the trade from Winnipeg to Columbus as he’s averaging 2.22 shots per game on 4.11 attempts. That drop could also be a byproduct of John Tortorella’s system.

However, in 2019-20 Laine was firing pucks in Winnipeg from everywhere. He averaged 6.11 attempts and landed 3.32 shots on net per game. That turned into a 28 goal season in just 68 games.

Again, it’s time for Kakko to shoot more – the goals should follow.

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Anthony Scultore is the founder of Forever Blueshirts and has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL... More about Anthony Scultore

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