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Kaapo Kakko, Rangers agree to entry-level contract

New York Rangers #45 Kaapo Kakko. New York

New York Rangers #45 Kaapo Kakko. New York Ranges annual prospect development camp. Chelsea Piers, 1 Blachley Rd, Stamford, CT. Photo Credit: Howard Simmons

Jeff Gorton has a long list of things to do this summer, so the Rangers general manager crossed off the easiest thing on that list Thursday when the Rangers announced they reached an agreement with first-round pick Kaapo Kakko on an entry-level contract.

Kakko, a 6-3, 195-pound winger from Turku, Finland, agreed to a standard three-year entry-level contract that carries a $925,000 salary cap hit.

The 18-year-old Kakko was the second pick overall in last month’s NHL draft. He was taken by the Rangers right after the Devils chose American Jack Hughes No. 1 overall. Kakko dazzled everyone at the World Championships in May, leading tournament champion Finland with six goals. He also scored the winning goal in Finland’s win over Hughes and the U.S. in the gold-medal game of the World Junior Championships in January, and in a 13-month span won gold medals in the U18 Worlds, the U20 Worlds and the World Championships. He became the youngest to do so at 18 years, 103 days. Connor McDavid, at 19, held the previous record.

Kakko scored 22 goals in 45 games in his league season with TPS of Finland’s top pro league, breaking the record for goals by an NHL draft-eligible player.

With Kakko in the fold, Gorton still has to sign restricted free agents Jacob Trouba, Pavel Buchnevich, Tony DeAngelo, Brendan Lemieux and Vinni Lettieri, and he’ll have to find a way to free up some room under the salary cap in order to do that.

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