Kaapo Kakko needs to start shooting more to be effective for Rangers

It’s taken four years but Kaapo Kakko, the second overall pick in the 2019 draft, has earned a prime opportunity with the New York Rangers after a strong training camp.

While he’s only seen a modest uptick in ice time from 15:27 last year to 16:03 this season, he’s consistently playing on the top line with Chris Kreider and Mika Zibanejad.

That’s resulted in some great scoring chances, but he still has just 3 points (2G -1A) in 10 games. One of his goals was a brilliant solo tour de force against the Wild in the team’s second game.

“To have that kind of strength, touch, and composure that was super impressive,” Chris Kreider said. “I got a pretty good viewpoint of [the goal], just standing there and going around me. I should’ve done a better job of boxing out my guy but Kaapo almost ran him over too.”

However, his .3 points per game pace is only going to be good for 25 points at this rate, which is simply not good enough for a first-line winger. Shockingly, during his injury plagued 2021-22 campaign, Kakko posted .42 points per game.

Kaapo Kakko needs to start shooting more

kaapo kakko
Oct 11, 2022; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers right wing Kaapo Kakko (24) skates against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the first period at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

This summer, the 21 year-old from Turku, Finland signed a two-year deal with an AAV of $2.1 million. So far in his career, he’s amassed 59 points in 159 games.

Kakko has a fairly consistent shooting percentage since coming into the league at 10.4%. He hasn’t had any wild swings like some other players experience in their careers. His biggest problem is he doesn’t shoot enough.

In 2021-22, he only took 1.44 shots per game which would have extrapolated to 118 shots. This season, it’s only up a bit to 1.8 shots per game which has him on pace for 147.

All the Rangers top scorers from last season posted over two shots a game with Chris Kreider leading the team with 3.18 shots per game resulting in 52 goals.

This year, the Blueshirts are shot happy with Mika Zibanejad leading the way with 5.1 shots per game. It’s no coincidence he leads the team with six goals. And while he is the primary shooter on the power play, other players are posting much better shots per game numbers than Kakko this season.

Vincent Trocheck is at 4.1, Kreider comes in a 3.4, and Artemi Panarin is at 2.7. Yes, they’re all on the firs power play unit but Alexis Lafrenière is not and he’s at 2.8 shots per game.

Simply put Kakko needs to start taking a few more shots per game to keep opponents guessing. Right now, they now he’s a pass first guy looking to the higher scoring veterans. If he simply starts throwing more pucks on net, he can pick up points on rebounds Kreider and Zibanejad find.

NHL Power Rankings

Latest NHL Power Rankings Here.