Rangers qualify Kaapo Kakko, Libor Hajek, and two other RFAs

The New York Rangers have extended qualifying offers to four of their 8 restricted free agents on Monday. All qualifying offers had to be in before 5 PM ET. Players that did not receive a qualifying offer are now unrestricted free agents.

Here’s a quick breakdown:

Qualified

  • Kaapo Kakko
  • Libor Hajek
  • Tim Gettinger
  • Austin Rueschhoff

Not Qualified

  • Justin Richards
  • Ty Ronning
  • Maxim Letunov
  • Tyler Wall

New York Rangers qualify Kaapo Kakko

The Rangers choice to qualify Kakko, Hajek, Gettinger, and Rueschhoff are no-brainers.

Kakko is close to signing a bridge-deal with the club expected to be for two-years at around $2 million per season.

A quick look at Hajek and Gettinger shows them as depth players that can play a role with the Hartford Wolf Pack in the AHL. It’s also still possible that Hajek could be included as a depth piece in a trade.

As for Rueschhoff, the 24 year-old is a monster of a man at 6-7 and 230 lbs. Last season, he recorded 14 goals and 24 points with the Pack. He’s expected to continue his role with the Rangers’ AHL affiliate.

Kakko Bridge Deal

Kaapo Kakko
Jan 13, 2022; San Jose, California, USA; New York Rangers right wing Kaapo Kakko (24) during the first period against the San Jose Sharks at SAP Center at San Jose. Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Reports have surfaced the the two sides are closing in on a new contract for the Rangers second overall pick in the 2019 Draft.

“Kakko is an all-world player who’s still developing,” Drury said per USA Today’s Vince Mercogliano. “He and I had a real good discussion before he left. There’s obviously a lot of belief from me and the staff of what his future holds. I know he’s excited for a good offseason and to come back next year and be ready.”

Kakko, 21, posted 18 points in just 43 games due to being on the injured list three separate times. For his three-year career, he’s managed just 58 points in 157 matches. However, his size, skill, and high potential does make him a very interesting player this summer for an offer sheet.

Per Mollie Walker of the NY Post, she estimates the number to force the Rangers into not matching would be between $4.2 and $6.3 million. However, Kakko left after the season sounding very much like he wanted to stay.

“I like to play here,” Kakko said. “I think [the scratch] gives me more motivation. I want to show I’m better than that. You should put me in the lineup because I’m a good player.”

NHL News and Rumors