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Would you be disappointed if Hughes not Kakko is the Rangers’ pick?

May 15, 2019, 9:11 AM ET [1238 Comments]
Jan Levine
New York Rangers Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
In my last blog I posed the question, if you had a choice who would you want the Rangers to select, Jack Hughes or Kaapo Kakko. Part way through the World Championships, I figured I would pose the question that seemingly has come to the forefront of almost New York fan. If the Devils take Kakko, would you be disappointed in the Blueshirts landing Hughes?

Two months ago, that question would be ridiculous. Now, seeing how Kakko’s stock has risen, especially due to his play so far on the tournament, this discussion is not as crazy as it once was. Hughes was and still is the the experts’ consensus first pick but there is no question the gap between the two has narrowed and rankings possibly swapped. This takes nothing away from Hughes but shows just how good Kakko has been and what the projections are for him.

Kakko is more NHL ready now, due to his size and skill level. Hughes needs to add strength but his talent level and projections as to what he can’t be become are through the roof. Franchise, elite, future #1 center are the terms most commonly associated with Hughes. But in this era of what have you done lately and the recency bias, Kakko’s performance and rise since the winter overweighs in the eyes of many what Hughes has done to become #1 ranked prospect.

Devils GM Ray Shero, who has the more difficult decision because he better be right, could very well go Kakko and put him on a line with Taylor Hall and Nico Hischier. If not, then he takes Hughes, who has a friendship with Hall, and he has a pretty good 1-2 pair at center. The Rangers Twitter consternation over losing Kakko is pretty funny. I admit, seeing what I have seen and the belief / expectation that he would be a Ranger along with how good I think he will become, makes me want Kakko. But selecting Hughes should in no way, shape or form, be viewed as getting stuck with a consolation prize.

Hughes is an elite talent. If GM Jeff Gorton selects him, and Gorton really can’t go wrong because these are the top two players and he lands which one Shero doesn’t take, then New York has a #2 center behind Mika Zibanejad. If this does occur, then Filip Chytil likely stays at wing, Brett Howden is the third line center and Lias Andersson quite possibly becomes trade bait, unless the view is he can move to the wing. Hughes or Kakko creates downstream impacts for roster creation, which will get augmented if New York signs Artemi Panarin.

As much as I want Kakko, getting Hughes would not be a disappointment. But that’s my view. Let me know what you think as curious seeing how Twitter seems to have reacted to the possibility of New Jersey taking Kakko.

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