Draft prospect profile: winger Kaapo Kakko


Each day this week leading up to the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, held on June 21 in Vancouver, we will be taking a look at the top prospects available for the Chicago Blackhawks with the No. 3 pick.

Tenth in the series of prospect profiles is winger Kappo Kakko.

Kaapo Kakko
2018–19 Team: TPS, Liiga
Date of Birth: February 13, 2001
Place of Birth: Turku, Finland
Height: 6-foot-2
Weight: 190 pounds
Shoots: Left
Position: Winger
NHL Central Scouting final ranking: #1, European skaters
NHL comparable: Peter Forsberg

In this draft, there are two players who have established themselves in an echelon above the rest of the class. It doesn’t mean that players after the top two won’t be good, or potentially great, NHL players. It means that these two are essentially “can’t miss” prospects for the teams lucky enough to pick in the top two. Kaapo Kakko is one of those two top players this year.

Kakko is an effortless, yet powerful skater, almost appearing to glide at high speed all over the ice. The young Finn can pass the puck with precision, but his real weapon is his shot. His shot is not the hardest you’re going to see, but it is very deceptive coming off his stick. Kakko’s lightning fast release allows him to freeze goaltenders as he weaves his way into open shooting areas all over the offensive zone.

The most impressive part about Kakko’s play may be his skating and ability to always find open ice. Blackhawks fans are used to Alex DeBrincat’s abilities in these regards, but Kakko takes it to an entirely new level. He can outstate anyone trying to cover him, determine the correct play—whether that be a pass or a quick wrist shot—and more often than not, good things happen.

Kaapo Kakko is the ultimate playmaker on the ice for any team he plays for. It’s safe to say he may the most NHL-ready prospect in this draft, even more than Jack Hughes. Hughes will need to put on some weight and develop a tad more physically, where Kakko has the size to compete at a high level in the show. Kakko has shown “man-like” power moves in international play that suggest a relatively easy translation of his skills to the NHL.

The only question that may be raised as an argument against Kakko’s immediate impact in the NHL is playing on European ice. The larger European ice sheet more time and space to create space plays. However, with the way the game is going as a speed first game, there is little doubt Kakko can be an immediate force for his new club come October.


Top line winger.

At 18 years of age, Kakko is fairly matured physically and has all of the necessary skills to be a force in the NHL.

He could be an immediate impact player in the NHL. Scouts have cited Kakko as being “near-impossible to push off the puck.”

The only question that may arise, as stated before, is how quickly can Kakko translate his game “thinking” and reactions to the smaller NHL ice sheet? If it is a quick transition, Kakko may win the Calder Trophy in June 2020.

Implications for the Blackhawks


While Hughes is in all likelihood headed to New Jersey with the first overall selection Friday night, there have been rumors that the New York Rangers might pass on Kakko and take Bowen Byram second. If so, you could pretty much count on seeing Stan Bowman and the Hawk brass vault to the stage in record time and claim Kakko as their prize. Will it happen? Unlikely. But no one foresaw Adam Boqvist falling to the Hawks at 8th overall last year either.

Kakko is both a player who can step in right now and provide immediate help on offense, while also setting up the future as a player who can be a part of the organization for the next 15 years. As Stan Bowman was quoted saying during the latest “On The Lock: Season 3” episode, the Blackhawks want a player who is going to be an important part of the organization 15 years from now, not just a guy who can come up and make an immediate impact. That said, Kakko fits both of those descriptions.

However, it is almost 99% certain to think that Kappo Kakko is wearing Rangers’ blue this fall in the Big Apple.

What others are saying

“..quality hands.. able to keep the puck under control when physically challenged.. works in all areas to help his team get possession.”

Draftin Europe 2018

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