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NHL Trade Talk

Kaapo Kakko Trade Would Be No-Brainer For Flyers



Kakko trade
A Kaapo Kakko trade would be a no-brainer for both the Philadelphia Flyers and the center-needy New York Rangers. (Photo: AP)

TSN insider Darren Dreger said on the latest episode of “Insider Trading” that the New York Rangers have been taking calls on Finnish winger Kaapo Kakko. That should be music to Philadelphia Flyers general manager Danny Briere’s ears.

“Multiple sources have said Drury is taking calls on Kakko,” Dreger said. “Now, losing Chytil for the remainder of the season is a big blow for the Rangers, but New York has cap space and potentially, the assets, like Kakko, to acquire a significant piece.”

The Rangers are undoubtedly looking to add a center with Filip Chytil out of commission for the foreseeable future. Indeed, the Flyers are not flush with centers, but one name that could pique the Rangers’ interest is Morgan Frost.

TSN released their latest “Trade Bait” list on Wednesday morning, where the Flyers center slotted in at No. 20, just below Calgary Flames defenseman Noah Hanifin. There’s been no indication that the Flyers would actually want to move Frost, but the 24-year-old has been playing excellent hockey as of late.

Frost had two goals, nine assists, and 11 points in 13 games for Philadelphia in the month of January, including four games with two points.

The Flyers limped into the All-Star break on a five-game losing streak, with four of those losses coming after the sudden departure of Carter Hart. On the other hand, Frost was one of the team’s lone bright spots to kick off 2024. The Aurora, Ontario native seemed to find another standard of play after being benched for one game by head coach John Tortorella on Jan. 4.

Why a Kakko Trade Makes Sense

Just like the Flyers aren’t loaded down the middle, they aren’t loaded with left-shot wingers either. Joel Farabee has been great, and that’s about it. Scott Laughton and Nick Deslauriers have both struggled, and the latter has been in and out of the lineup. It’s still unclear whether the Flyers plan for Noah Cates to be a center or a left wing in the NHL.

Philadelphia will have to wait until 2026 to welcome Matvei Michkov to the fold, and there’s no guarantee Olle Lycksell has the ability to steal a meaningful full-time role on the NHL roster. Any other left-shot players in the system are coin-flips.

As for Kakko, he’ll turn 23 in a few weeks and is in the midst of a career-worst season. The Rangers, aspiring to be Stanley Cup contenders, cannot afford to wait around for the 22-year-old to turn it around while their center depth suffers. Kakko has just five goals, one assist, and six points across 28 games this season. He has, however, scored in each of his last two games.

Kakko is still young and had an 18-goal, 22-assist, 40-point campaign last year. He also has a plus-3 rating this year, despite his average ice time being down nearly two full minutes from 2022-23’s 15:18 average.

Perhaps more significantly, the Finn is shooting at a 14.7% clip. That’s a really high mark, but 34 total shots on goal in 28 games suggests almost zero offensive involvement.

At 6-foot-3, Kakko has made himself into a strong possession player, as well as someone who can be relied upon defensively. On paper, the Rangers forward sounds like a good fit for Tortorella and the Flyers. The Flyers excel off the rush, but struggle greatly off the cycle. Kakko checks both boxes if the fit is right.

Is a Kakko trade likely between two rivals? No, probably not. A deal would be mutually beneficial, though, and the Flyers and Rangers both know that they have to give in order to get. Still very much in the rebuild stage, the Flyers would do well to the trigger on a Kakko trade and add another young, esteemed piece to their developing roster.

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