The hype surrounding the 2019 Traverse City prospect tournament was at an all-time high for the New York Rangers, with fans left disappointed after top draft choice Kaapo Kakko sat out the first two games because of illness.
It turned out the No. 2 overall pick’s debut was worth the wait.
Kakko took the ice for the first time Monday and provided the type of drama that will only enhance his status as a folk hero. After a slow start for the Finnish star and the rest of the Blueshirts’ prospects, Kakko assisted on all three third-period goals and finished off the Minnesota Wild with an unforgettable overtime goal for a 4-3 win.
The game-ending play included two circles around the Minnesota goal — almost as if he was toying with the Wild defense — and ended with a wrap-around shot that goalie Hunter Jones never had a chance at stopping.
It’s worth a few watches:
LABOR TALKS: NHL players optimistic as key deadline approaches
Before the highlight-reel goal, Kakko assisted on both goals from another highly touted prospect — Vitali Kravtsov — as well as the game-tying goal from Patrick Newell with about a minute left in regulation.
Kakko finished with four points (one goal, three assists) in a debut that has Twitter buzzing.