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In recent years Finland has emerged as a hockey power. The country has developed a number of top prospects in recent years and 2019 is no different. Kaapo Kakko has set records for a teenager in Finland’s SM-Liiga and might be the best of the new wave of Finnish hockey superstars. Playing for TPS Turku, Kakko scored 22 goals and 38 points in 45 games. He also played for the Finnish team at the World Junior Championships, picking up five points in seven games including the golden goal that led to the dramatic Finnish victory in the final game.
Last season, Kakko had 55 points in 38 games in the Finnish Under-20 league. However, it was his work at the IIHF Under-18s that really impressed. Kakko put up 10 points in seven games, helping Finland to a gold medal.
Kaapo Kakko Scouting Report
Right Wing/Centre– shoots Left
Born February 13th, 2001 — Turku, Finland
Height 6’2″ — Weight 190 lbs [187 cm / 86 kg]
Kakko is a very good skater. He has very quick feet giving him a great first step and strong acceleration. He also has great top-end speed and is tough to contain off the rush. The best part of his skating though is his strength and balance. Kakko can use his power to fight through checks and win battles on the board and in front of the net. He shows the excellent ability to protect the puck down low and making plays. He also has very good agility and edgework. This allows him to make quick changes in direction or speed to beat defenders in one-on-one situations. Kakko is able to pair this skating ability with the hands necessary to make plays and control the puck at top speed, which makes him even more dangerous.
Kakko is a highly skilled winger who can create in a variety of ways. He has the soft hands to stickhandle in a phone booth and can protect the puck and extend plays. His wrist shot is extremely powerful and features a very quick release. He also has an effective one-timer. Kakko uses his soft hands to finish plays in tight. All of this makes him a pure sniper. However, he can also be an effective playmaker. When an opportunity presents itself, he can set up a teammate for a scoring chance. Kakko is a smart player who sees the play developing and makes the smart play. He has very good vision and can find an open teammate in front of the net. His soft hands and quick feet allow him to change angles and beat a defender to create a passing lane.
While Kakko can add some muscle to his frame, he already shows the power to play against men in Finland. He protects the puck well down low and extends plays. He works well at winning battles on the boards as well as establishing his position in front of the net. Kakko adds power to his skilled game, helping him to be effective in all aspects of his offensive game.
Kakko’s intelligence extends to the defensive end of the ice. He reads the play extremely well and is almost always in the right position. His ability to anticipate what opponents will do allows him to intercept passes and start the transition game. Kakko is committed to supporting the defence down low and fighting hard on the backcheck. He is strong along the boards and in front of the net. Kakko is not afraid and does not back down from his opponents, even when playing against men.
Projection and Comparison
A natural winger, Kakko has spent some time at centre in the Finnish league this season. If he can continue that transition, it would make him even more valuable. That said, even if he stays at right wing, he’s ready for a top-six role in the NHL right now, and projects to grow into an elite forward. Kakko’s game is reminiscent of Aleksander Barkov. However, this is not a talent comparison, but rather a stylistic one.
The following is a compilation of some of the highlight packages and features of Kaapo Kakko that are available on youtube.
Check back tomorrow for the next prospect on our draft board.