NHL Trade Rumors: Rangers "Aggressively" Shopping Kaapo Kakko

The New York Rangers are reportedly "aggressively" shopping 23-year-old forward Kaapo Kakko, despite recently signing him to a one-year, $2.4 million contract, according to Larry Brooks of The New York Post.

This move appears to be a strategic decision by GM Chris Drury, using Kakko along with the team's 30th-overall draft pick as leverage to move up in the first round. 

The Rangers, who are aiming for higher selections such as the 13th or 14th pick, are keen on acquiring top-tier talent to strengthen their roster further.

Kakko, the second-overall pick in the 2019 draft, has had an underwhelming development period with the Rangers, managing just 13 goals and six assists in 61 games last season. 

Critics have pointed out that the lack of an NHL veteran from Finland to mentor Kakko might have hindered his adaptation to the league. It wasn't until the acquisition of Niko Mikkola at the 2023 trade deadline that Kakko had a fellow Finnish player on the roster, but by then, it may have been too late to significantly impact his development, as noted by Brooks.

Trading Kakko at this stage is seen as a sell-low scenario, yet the Rangers are determined to leverage his value to enhance their draft position. 

Potential trade partners include the San Jose Sharks, who hold the 14th overall pick, and the Minnesota Wild with the 13th overall pick. 

Both teams could benefit from adding a young forward like Kakko, fitting well with the Rangers' aggressive approach to optimizing their roster for another deep playoff run.

Photo Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports