– Kaapo Kakko –
TPS (Liiga) | Right Wing | 2019 NHL Draft Eligible
Turku, Finland | February 13, 2001 | 6-foot-1, 181-pounds
Kaapo Kakko is an elite and dynamic prospect for the 2019 NHL Draft. The 17-year-old winger spent the majority of the 2017-18 season playing for the TPS U20 team, which plays in Jr. A SM-Liiga. He tore the league apart, tallying 25 goals and 55 points over just 38 games. Kakko’s 1.47 points-per-game rank third all-time among U17 prospects playing in the league, behind only Mikael Granlund and Jesse Puljujarvi.
Kakko will likely spend the entire 2018-19 campaign in Liiga where he will be up against stiff competition each night. The greatest point-per-game rate for an NHL Draft eligible prospect in Liiga was 0.93 but, Kakko may be able to push that record.
- Hockey Sense
- Puck Handling
Kaapo Kakko is an electric force to watch each night he takes the ice. He is an elusive skater who can use his edges efficiently to maneuver through traffic with ease. He reaches impressive top speeds and has the agility and acceleration to make him dangerous within the first three steps.
Kakko also reads the game extremely well, understanding where his teammates and opponents will be as the play develops. He often utilizes this ability to force turnovers and generate offence. Kakko also possesses a quick set of mitts, and frequently makes his opponents look silly by dangling through tight spaces.
- Defensive Awareness
As a winger, this undoubtedly has less of an impact than it would for a center, but Kakko has room for improvement in his defensive game. As with most 17-year-olds, Kakko’s game revolves around his offensive abilities, but a slight increase in his awareness within his own zone would go a long way to further convincing NHL scouts of his immense value. A few simple adjustments in positioning and stick locations would morph Kakko into an all-around superstar on the ice. As with all top prospects, it takes some serious nit-picking to find a flaw in Kakko’s game.
Kaapo Kaako projects to be a potent first-line winger and a game-changer in the NHL who could rack up north of 35 goals and 80 points in his prime years. Comparables include Sebastian Aho and Filip Forsberg. Entering the 2018-19 season, Kakko ranks as a top-3 pick for the 2019 NHL Draft.