Breaking: NY Rangers Make A Move With Kakko

He's been on everyone's trade boards for this off-season, as a Kaapo Kakko trade seemed all but inevitable for the New York Rangers' 23-year-old forward. Today, the Rangers have made a move with the restricted free agent, signing him to a one-year deal that, in fact, might make him even more attractive to a potential trade partner.  

Yes, the $2.4 million deal is a good team-friendly number and provides cost-certainty for the Rangers—if they still decide to keep the former No. 2 overall selection (2019 NHL Draft). But the general consensus, after a very difficult season for the Finnish blueliner, has been that a change of scenery could still do him good. It's hard to know at this point if this agreement, which, at $2.4 million is the same as what his qualifying offer would have been, will change things. 

There are really two possibilities as to how this team-friendly deal came about: Either Kakko realized that the team needed to get him signed and avoid arbitration in order to better facilitate a trade, or, after a disappointing season, he decided to sign at this reasonable number as a show of faith that he wants a mulligan on 2023-24 and is willing to give the Rangers a break in order to show them he can be better. 

Kakko registered just 19 points this season (13 goals, 6 assists) in 61 games, after it appeared he'd finally broken through as a solid NHLer in 2022-23 when he posted 18 goals and 40 points. 

We'll have to keep an eye on this situation, as his trade candidacy isn't done yet. 

Photo: © James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports