Rangers Roundup: Kaapo Kakko happy to have Finnish teammate, Blueshirts go animated, and more

kaapo kakko
Feb 10, 2023; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers right wing Kaapo Kakko (24) celebrates his goal against the Seattle Kraken during the first period at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been a long time coming for Kaapo Kakko, who finally has a fellow countryman on the team in defenseman Niko Mikkola. According to Finnish outlet Ilta Sanomat, it was Braden Schneider that informed him of the trade that landed both Mikkola and Vladimir Tarasenko.

“Schneider came to ask if I knew Mikkola,” Kakko said via Google Translate. “Of course I immediately connected it to the trade. I went looking for more information and was pretty excited.”

Kakko has been waiting to speak Finnish with a teammate ever since being selected by the Rangers second overall in the 2019 NHL Draft.

“We’ve got some Finnish guy over here, so good for me,” Kakko said with a smile after the trade. “Sometimes it’s fun to speak Finnish. I know him already– good guy. We played on the international team one international tournament together.”

Mikkola, 26, will be a pending UFA this summer but there’s already an inkling that the Rangers may look to extend him before the market opens in July. Regardless, he’s happy to be spending some time with Kakko.

“[Kakko] had a big smile when I walked in the locker room,” Mikkola said with a laugh. “We’re both pretty excited.”

Kaapo Kakko wasn’t sure if he would be traded

Kaapo Kakko
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

One of the most interesting tidbits from the Ilta Sanomat interview was Kakko thinking he might be going the other way for Tarasenko.

“I was browsing social media and saw that Tarasenko was coming,” Kakko explained to IS. “I immediately started to see if there would be a call that I could go in the other direction myself.”

The Rangers are highly unlikely to trade the 22 year-old winger anytime soon. This season, he’s in the process of setting career highs with every contest. In 2022-23, Kakko has 11 goals, 17 assists, and 28 points in 53 games.

Kakko also has one year remaining on his contract with a cap hit of $2.1M before becoming an RFA with arbitration rights in 2024.

New York Rangers go Disney

When the Rangers take on the Washington Capitals on March 14, fans can tune into ESPN+ and the Disney Channel to see a live animated version of the game.

It’s being called the “NHL Big City Greens Classic” and here’s a synopsis via the NHL:

The alternate presentation of the Capitals-Rangers game will feature live, real-time volumetric animation of players and teams modeled after characters on Disney Branded Television’s Emmy® Award-winning animated comedy “Big City Greens.” ESPN+, Disney Channel, Disney XD and Disney+ will present the live, animated telecast, while the main telecast will be available on ESPN and ESPN+.

You can check out the trailer in the tweet below.

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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