Rangers did ‘tremendous job’ in this area ahead of trade deadline, ESPN host Don LaGreca says on podcast interview

Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Don LaGreca believes there’s a lot to like about what the New York Rangers did, and didn’t do, ahead of the NHL trade deadline last week.

That includes a certain area not being discussed as much as others.

“Holding on to [Kaapo] Kakko, to me, is like a pseudo-trade for them because I still think he can pop for them,” LaGreca told the Forever Blueshirts podcast. “I see it. Even (Tuesday) night (a 1-0 win against the Carolina Hurricanes), he can puck-handle in very limited space, he’s creating opportunities. Will he ever justify the second pick overall? Likely not. … But to be able to hold on to Kakko, [Rangers general manager Chris Drury] did a tremendous job.”

Kakko has one point, a goal against the St. Louis Blues on Saturday, in three games since the deadline. His name circulated in some rumors, though it’s unknown how seriously the Rangers ever considered dealing him.

But the ESPN Radio host is of the mind that keeping Kakko in New York was as important as acquiring Jack Roslovic, Alex Wennberg and Chad Ruhwedel.

Related: Rangers all-time goalie tandems ranked after Jonathan Quick extension

Don LaGreca talks Rangers present, future after trade deadline on Forever Blueshirts podcast

There’s likely not a more polarizing player on the Rangers roster than Kakko. Some hockey people see an emerging power forward that can be a force in the top six. Others see a disappointing player who doesn’t score nearly enough and is burdened by being the No. 2 overall pick in the 2019 draft.

Kakko has 12 points (eight goals, four assists) in 44 games this season. He missed 21 games with lower-body injury and played better on the third line than the top line with Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider. After a five-game point streak in mid-February, Kakko has one point in his past nine games.

LaGreca also applauded Drury for not being seduced by bigger names and focused on filling holes at right wing and center.

“There were sexier moves that could have gotten the fanbase excited,” LaGreca said. “I like that the fanbase was a little disappointed. I like that it wasn’t all sexy because sometimes sexy doesn’t work. This [approach] has a tendency to work. … You can see they (Roslovic and Wennberg) are contributors, they’re involved and make the team better. That’s what wins Stanley Cups.”

LaGreca also emphasized in the podcast that by managing the roster as he did affords Drury the chance to not only chase the Stanley Cup this season but for several years to come.

Subscribe here to watch the entire Don LaGreca interview and all of our New York Rangers video content on the Forever Blueshirts YouTube channel.

Jim Cerny is Executive Editor at Forever Blueshirts and Managing Editor at Sportsnaut, with more than 30 years of... More about Jim Cerny

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