Kaapo Kakko says “I’m ready to play” for New York Rangers

Kaapo Kakko is a big kid with an even bigger smile. The young Finn is in his third season with the New York Rangers and is eager to get back into action. Kakko has no points in three games and left after the first period in the Rangers 3-1 win over Montreal with an undisclosed upper-body injury.

The 20 year-old is now back and practicing with his regular line mates, Artemi Panarin and Ryan Strome.

Kaapo Kakko ready to get back in the lineup

“Yeah, I’m ready to play,” Kakko quickly answered about playing tomorrow against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Kakko made the most of his time sitting in the press box, specifically watching the Rangers penalty kill. “I was watching our PK, especially since I am playing right now,” he said. “So I think I learned something about it.”

Kaapo Kakko was selected second overall in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. The 6-3 winger is at a crucial point in his development. He finished the 2020-21 campaign with 17 points on the strength of 8 goals in 48 games.

Kaapo Kakko
Nov 23, 2019; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; New York Rangers right wing Kaapo Kakko (24) during the warm-up session before the game against Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

“Of course I would like more points,” Kakko told YLE News before the season. “When I played in Finland, it was all working for me. Now the last few seasons (in the NHL) have been quieter for me.” Still, Kakko views last year as a step in the right direction. “I’m pleased with [how I played]. I was able to improve my game.”

Although his numbers did’t stand out, he missed time last season after contracting COVID-19. As a diabetic, this was especially concerning and he admitted it took him awhile to start feeling better after he returned. The biggest issue he complained of was not having his leg strength. For a player that uses his lower body strength to control the boards and quick bursts of speed, it had a negative impact on his numbers.

Now that he’s healthy, Kakko is ready to get back to work on the second line. “Right now we’re back again and we played good,” he said about the two games together. “So we’ll just keep going.”

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