Weight: 181 lbs
NHL Draft Eligible: 2019
Kaapo Kakko has been tearing the Finnish U20 league apart in the 2017-2018 season. The 16-year-old forward has put up 25 goals and 47 points in 32 games. These point totals put him in the same tier with some of the most productive U17 prospects of all time. His 1.47 points per game ranks third among U17 players, only behind Jesse Puljujärvi (1.64) and Mikael Granlund (1.63), both of whom are former Top 10 NHL Draft picks.
Kakko averaged 9 minutes and 11 seconds of ice-time in his first two Liiga games with TPS in December. However, after being called up from the U20 team in January, the 16-year-old winger has seen his ice-time increase significantly. He has been playing on the first line alongside veteran forwards Eric Perrin and Tomi Kallio. The 6’1 forward has looked ready for the Liiga game and hasn’t had any issues to adapt to the faster and more physical game.
He picked up his first point at the men’s level against HPK with a great pass to Kallio on a 2 vs 1 attack. Moreover, he drew two penalties to HPK in the first period and his play with the puck stood out.
Kakko possesses a rare combination of elite skill, speed and hockey sense. He has very soft hands and the ability to maneuver with the puck in tight quarters with relative ease. Both his acceleration and mobility are top notch. He can find seams and move the puck through traffic in the offensive zone. Defensively, Kakko uses his stick really well. The physical tools are evident as he’s strong on the puck, plays with tenacity and gets involved in board and corner battles.
In this clip from a Liiga game against Lukko, he lifts an opponent’s stick, makes his way to the slot and gets a backhander on net. He’s a smart player who can take advantage of any extra room in the offensive zone.
Here’s a demonstration of his situational toughness and vision. His speed has allowed him to get to pucks quickly even at the Liiga level.
At the moment, I think Kakko has a legitimate chance to be a Top 5 pick in the 2019 NHL Draft. He’s a multidimensional, dynamic player with a ton of potential. I had him as the second best Finn for the draft in my Prospect Guide in April, however, he has separated himself from the other top prospects over the course of the season.