Rangers' Kaapo Kakko Pops Up in Trade Rumors Ahead of Deadline

As March's trade deadline slowly approaches, the New York Rangers are reportedly taking calls on Kaapo Kakko.
Nov 24, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; New York Rangers right wing Kaapo Kakko (24) reaches
Nov 24, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; New York Rangers right wing Kaapo Kakko (24) reaches / Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports

The Kaapo Kakko era in New York may be coming to an end once the trade deadline arrives. Darren Dreger of TSN said on his Insider Trading show that Chris Drury is taking calls on the former second-overall pick.

Moving on from Kakko would be disappointing given the expectations placed upon him but, it may also help push the Rangers over the top towards a Stanley Cup. The forward hasn't reached the potential he had shown leading up to the NHL Draft and injuries have kept him from playing a consistent amount.

There are certainly two arguments around Kakko's future: one to trade him and one for the team to hold on to him. The notion of trading him is simple; while Kakko still may grow into an outstanding player, this year may be the best chance the Rangers have to win a Stanley Cup with an aging core.

Trading Kakko may return the Rangers a top-line right wing to play alongside Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider. Kakko really doesn't fit outside of playing on the fourth line if the Rangers trade for a top-six right wing. The Rangers certainly wouldn't move Lafreniere off of the second line and Blake Wheeler has played well on a cheap deal on the third line for the New York Rangers.

The argument for holding on to Kakko is based on not wanting to move him for a mid-tier rental. Kakko is still only 22 years old with a long future ahead of him in the NHL. The Rangers also are filled with many free agents and pieces that won't be with the team long-term. Kakko will become a restricted free agent this offseason and an extension just may not be in the cards for the former second overall pick.

So who would the Rangers land in return?

Moving Kaapo Kakko would certainly have to return a top-line right wing that can help the Kreider-Zibanejad line score in five-on-five. One option could be a familiar face in Pavel Buchnevich who will have one year remaining on his contract after this season. Buchnevich has scored 17 goals and 22 assists this season in 46 games.

The Rangers could also reunite with Frank Vatrano who's become an All-Star with the Ducks scoring 21 goals with 14 assists in 49 games this season. The trade deadline isn't until March meaning that we likely won't know if Kaapo Kakko is on the move for a few weeks.

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