It has not gone great since the Rangers opened the year with two wins. Since then, they’ve gotten abused by every team they’ve played, made Rangers twitter almost break the site, and there is no hope that things are changing. Now, this is a proposal. I’m very aware that my club hockey career, my 4 championships in be a GM mode and a cardboard cut out of Henrik do not make me an expert, I get that. However, this is my site, I make the rules and I think I have a pretty good grasp on the game of hockey.
Kaapo Kakko is 18 years old. He has won at every level he has played at, up until now. He is now playing in a league where players are bigger, stronger, faster and there 100% will be a learning curve. I didn’t hate starting Kakko on the second line because of Kreider but the only life you see out of 20 is when he’s put with the big dogs, thus leaving Kakko essentially alone. Now, an 18 year old in a league he’s never played in, in a country he’s never lived in, would benefit from not only some confidence, but play with other players who elevate people around them. This kid is the future of the New York Rangers, there is no doubt about that. His play will at some point elevate the play of others and once that happens, we’re in business. To jump start this happening, a player needs to play with, lets say it together, confidence. He needs to play with players who will cover for his mistakes but will also help show off his offensive creativity. There is no metric for confidence, swagger, or any of that, but having played hockey, having been around people who have played at an elite level of hockey, along with skill, and smarts, you need to have that mindset and if you don’t, if you’re lost, if you’re not performing where you think you should be, you’ll get stuck.
My thoughts? Put Kakko up with Zibanejad and Panarin and watch the boys spin. They’ve lost the last 4 and can’t look any worse than they do now. If they can light a fire, cover for some mistakes, and make Kakko believe and know he belongs in the league as a playmaker then you can put him on other lines that he can help elevate the players around him. Players are either leaders or followers and right now Kakko needs to be led, in turn to pay it forward. The moment this happens, watch out because Kaapo Kakko is an animal. He just needs to be around players who can show him how.