In early February I got the proverbial lottery ball rolling to the upcoming 2019 NHL entry draft by doing a breakdown of the kind of players I could see the Ducks targeting as potential selection.
Now that we are that much closer to the draft and more importantly; knowing the Ducks’ destiny with regards to where they might select with their own first round pick - let us do a more in-depth look at each player I initially covered as well as some others that I did not.
Next up is Kaapo Kakko - the #NextFinn
Position: Left Wing/Center?
Weight: 190lb (86kg)
Age: 18 (DOB Feb 13, 2001 - Turku, Finland)
I had this to say about him:
From an American with heart to an American heart breaker- Kakko scored the game winning goal to give Finland the gold medal over Team USA at this year’s World Juniors. He has a size advantage over Hughes and has many observers starting to look his way as their choice for a first overall selection. His biggest strength is his vision, reading the play while it is still developing, and using his hockey smarts to create while using his size to shield the puck. If he was a center he would be the Ducks’ absolute wet dream selection but, alas, he is not. Playing with men in the highest division in Finland, he has 23 points in 30 games and scouts have commented on just how confident and willing he is to attempt things that players of his age would not normally fathom doing in that league. He had five points in seven games at the World Juniors including that gold medal winning goal.
Since this update there have been reports that “there are some thought Kakko could play center” - which might absolutely lead to him being selected first overall purely based on the fact that he is putting up impressive numbers against men, while also breaking league records in fewer games played than those who came before him.
Wheeler described him as more of a “scorer” than a passer. This holds true with his overall career goal totals ranking much higher than his assists, and he has only had more assists than goals in one season thus far. He finished the year with 38 points in 45 games for TPS in the Liiga this year, leading all U19 players. He has 3 points in 3 games so far in the playoffs, tied for first with Ville Heinola (another player I profiled in February) for U19 players and 19th overall.
His game is not quite as creative as Hughes, but if you watch the highlights below I think you will agree that it combines a perfect blend of size and skill with the finishing touch being his ... well finish (excuse the pun).
I would go so far as to say that whomever gets the 2nd overall pick at this year’s draft actually has it best. They don’t get a choice in which of Hughes or Kakko - and would likely be glad to have received either - but they also will not have the future regret of “we could have had that guy” that the first overall holder may have further down the line.