Larry Brooks was dropping bombs this morning, first all but confirming there won’t be a buyout for Jacob Trouba, and in the same article mentioning Kaapo Kakko is being actively shopped. Brooks noted the Rangers want to move up at the draft specifically. But what is Kaapo Kakko’s trade value in this type of scenario? Are the Rangers only exploring moving up at the draft?

There is very little precedent for trading a young player like Kakko at the draft, especially in a trading up scenario. To see how high the Rangers can move up, we first need to identify Kaapo Kakko’s trade value in terms of draft picks. Luckily there are two recent trades that don’t check all the boxes, but get us close enough to a fair trade.

First is the Ross Colton trade from Tampa to Colorado for a 2nd round pick (#37). Colton was a bit different since he was 27 years old, but his production matches Kakko’s. He’s also a different type of player than Kakko. Then there’s the Alex Newhook trade from Colorado to Montreal for picks 31 and 37. Similar production and age, but again different play styles.

If we use the Newhook trade comp to determine Kaapo Kakko’s trade value, at least in terms of moving up at the draft, then the Rangers can package him with the #30 overall pick to move up to around pick 11. Ignore Detroit above, I just to pick a team to fill in the rest of the pick value calculator at PuckPedia. Grain of salt required, of course.

For what it’s worth, if Kakko is only worth pick #37 then the trade value doesn’t move up too much. Maybe a few picks.

Kaapo Kakko’s trade value likely falls in the middle, somewhere around a pair of high 2nds or a high 1st and a mid-2nd round pick. That probably puts the Rangers in the 15-20 range. Naturally, something like this won’t happen until we see how the draft unfolds.

If you’re wondering why the Rangers would want to package a useful player in their current window to win for a player that won’t help until 2026, then your thought process is aligned with mine. On the surface, it doesn’t really make sense for the current window. But we do know the Rangers will have another window open pretty soon after the Artemi Panarin/Jacob Trouba contracts are up in 2026. That’s their second window with Adam Fox, Alexis Lafreniere, and Igor Shesterkin shouldering the load with (likely) K’Andre Miller and Braden Schneider in key roles.

Obviously we won’t know the full plan with Kakko until the draft, but there’s certainly some logic behind using him to move up at the draft. There are other trade scenarios for Kakko, with Rutger McGroaty’s trade request from Winnipeg. This is a grey area and it’s virtually impossible to predict what Winnipeg will want for McGroaty. Is the #30 and Kakko enough? Does that help the Rangers in their near and medium term?

We won’t be getting much of a break with Game 7 tonight, the draft on Friday/Saturday, and free agency beginning Monday. Going to be a fun ride.

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