Kakko starting his rookie of the year push

Kakko – Getty Images

Don’t look now, but Kaapo Kakko has truly begun asserting himself in the rookie of the year chase. In his last 3 games, the NYR 1st round pick, 2nd overall is starting to buzz. He has 3 goals and 2 assists in that span and finally looks comfortable in his Rangers jersey.

Heating Up

Over the last few weeks, the 18 year old Finnish Phenom has looked every bit the player the Rangers drafted. For the season, Kakko has 10 points in 17 games and his 6 goals are just one behind fellow rookie, Victor Olofsson of Buffalo. However, since his goal against the Lightning on 10/29/19, Kakko has 8 points in 8 games.

Not too long ago Kakko was having a rough go of it this season. He was bounced around lines and the Rangers had to bring in Tuomo Ruutu to help him adjust to North American life. We often lose sight that Kakko is just a kid from a small country trying to adjust to life away from home, which is harder than adjusting to rink sizes.

All of this was very obvious on the ice, as the kid was visibly frustrated. Things started to come to a head in a 3-2 OT loss against the Coyotes on 10/22 where he received a season low 9:51 of ice time. It got worse over the next two games where he was a combined -6 in those contests.

It wasn’t until David Quinn admitted that he and his staff might have been over-coaching him that the kid turned it around. The coach just let Kakko play his game and it is obviously working.

Calder Push

Kaapo Kakko currently sits 6th in rookie of the year scoring. His season points per game average will put him around the 45 point mark. Still, if we go at his current point per game clip he could finish with 73 points. While that seems highly unlikely, Kakko is realistically looking at a 55-60 point season.

Of course, if you’ve been watching him play lately you could say that flirting with the 70 point mark isn’t out of the realm of possibility. Last night, he picked up a lucky assist, it was still because of a skilled and power move to the net. Kakko, with the confidence of an all-star did a spin move to get off a great shot on the PP that Panarin buried.

Finally, Cale Makar leads all rookies in scoring with 23 points in 21 games. The Avs high flying defenseman doesn’t look like he will slow down any time soon and being a scoring blue-liner gives him an edge. Still, Kakko is heating up and will certainly make his case in the rookie race.

Anthony Scultore has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL since 2014. His work also appears at... More about Anthony Scultore

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