Rangers Roundup: What’s up with Kaapo Kakko, Sharks GM defends David Quinn, and more
The New York Rangers extended Kaapo Kakko his qualifying offer back on July 11. They then shifted focused on signing Vincent Trocheck, Jaroslav Halak, and a few other minor deals once free agency opened on the 13th.
“We think the world of him, he’s a terrific young player. We want him here for a really long time,” Drury said after free agent frenzy. “It’s a player we want and I’m not too worried about getting him into the fold soon.”
We are now over two weeks since Kakko was tendered his qualifying offer with no word on a new contract.
What’s up with Kaapo Kakko?
Kakko, 21, posted 18 points in just 43 games due to being on the injured list three separate times this past season. During the playoffs, he showed an ability to hang with the big boys in stiff competition. In 19 postseason games, he picked up 2 goals and 5 points.
According to Mollie Walker for NY Post Sports+ (Subscription Required), the two sides are in no rush to strike a deal.
“Chris Drury may be looking at other options to create space or set the club up for future moves before he puts a final dollar figure on the table for Kakko,” Walker writes. “But conversations continue to be had. It all seems very amicable, and there is no indication that an offer sheet will derail Kakko’s tenure in New York, though it is known that the Rangers would be in trouble if the Finnish winger were to receive one.”
At this point, an offer sheet for Kakko would be very unlikely. Of course, the hold up is concerning unless Drury is trying to make another move before finalizing what many believe will be a two-year bridge deal in the neighborhood of $2 million per season.
The Rangers options for a trade are very limited at this point if Drury is looking to open space. Ryan Reaves and his $1.75 million cap hit appears to be the only obvious trade Drury could make. However, such a move takes an excellent glue-guy off a team that absolutely loves what he brings.
Sharks GM defends David Quinn
The San Jose Sharks introduced new head coach David Quinn on Tuesday.
Quinn, 56, was fired as coach of the Rangers on May 12, 2021. He posted a 96-87-25 record in his three seasons. His only “playoff” appearance was a sweep in the 2020 Qualifying Round at the hands of the Carolina Hurricanes.
During his tenure with the Rangers, he received criticism for how he handled the ice time of young stars Kaapo Kakko and Alexis Lafreniere.
“I’ll be honest, that’s the first I’ve heard of it and I’ve coached a lot of young players,” Quinn retorted. “I think if you want people to be better you have to be demanding but fair. When you have 18, 19 year old players set in their ways, things that they’ve done to get to this point aren’t necessarily what they need to do to continue to have success.”
Before the next question could be asked, Grier jumped in to defend Quinn against those critiques regarding his handling the Rangers youth in the lineup.
“Some of the stuff that’s out there about [his time with] the Rangers, I don’t think is fair,” he said.
Grier noted that despite Kakko (2nd overall) and Lafreniere (1st overall) being high draft picks, their situations were not comparable to other similar prospects. The Rangers made two big leaps in the lottery draft to select them with stars like Artemi Panarin, Mika Zibanejad, and Chris Kreider already on the team.
“If he just started giving Kakko and Lafreniere first line shifts without them earning it, the Kreiders and Zibanejads of the world would not have been happy with him,” Grier explained. “I think he handled the situation with the young players as well as he could’ve.”
Lundqvist twins bring the band back
Henrik Lundqvist and his twin brother Joel took to the stage after a 30 year absence and are ready to go on tour.
“Reunited. After almost 30 years the band was back together. After rating our performance I think it was one and done,” Hank wrote on Instagram. “To book us for an after ski, after beach or why not a wedding, call our mother.”
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