The NHL Draft Lottery was kind to the New York Rangers, a team looking to accelerate their rebuild as fast as possible. And on Friday, they'll be selecting No. 2 overall in Vancouver.
And with that pick, it's almost certain that it will be Finnish winger Kaapo Kakko, who many view as the second-best prospect in the Draft behind United States C Jack Hughes.
If the mock drafts and speculation hold true, the Rangers will be getting Kakko - a 6-foot-2, aggressive player that has the potential to go down in history as one of the best to come out of Finland.
But let's not jump ahead, says NBC Sports' NHL analyst Pierre McGuire. Kakko may have been compared to some of Finland's best, but McGuire doesn't want to put the youngster there just yet.
"Kakko is not Teemu Selanne, who I think is the best Finnish-born forward of all time," McGuire told SNY ahead of the Draft. "He's not Jari Kurri. But he's really smart, talented, savvy-finishing kind of player. There's not a lot of guys that have that kind of hockey sense and intuitive ability to finish plays. It's just not the way the game is set up. This guy really understands how to do those things. He's extremely, extremely talented and I really respect the way he plays the game."
Kakko does possess the skills enough to gain McGuire's approval, though. As he mentions, his hockey sense comes natural, and that translates to another facet of his game he admires: putting the puck in the back of the net.
"I respect his finishing ability. I respect his creativity. I respect his strength on the puck," McGuire explained. "He's a guy it's not going to take long for him to make a mark in the league."
It was at the IIHF World Championships that Kakko showcased that finishing ability, scoring six goals and assisting on one to tally seven points for his championship-winning Finland team. And he was playing against some of the world's best at 18 years old.
So, if Kakko has seen success already against these elite players, he should transition to the NHL with ease, right? McGuire thinks so.
The main reason behind his confidence in Kakko has to do with the Rangers' coaching staff. Led by David Quinn, this group is one that is perfect for a player like Kakko in his eyes. McGuire went at length to explain why.
"The one thing that I really admire about the Rangers: the coaching staff. Whether it's Greg Brown, Lindy Ruff, David Oliver, obviously David Quinn," said McGuire. "I remember when Lindy was coaching in Buffalo, he had Thomas Vanek and he was breaking him in. He had Jason Pominville and he was breaking him in. …So I remember how well Lindy worked with younger players there, and I've known David Oliver for a long time. He's very good with young players. Greg Brown is off the charts good. When he was at Boston College, nobody was producing more NHL players than Boston College. I think at one time they had 27 or 28 guys in the NHL, which was amazing. And David Quinn forever has always been good with young players. I worked with David back in the 1980s when he was just coming out of BU."
It seems, then, that a marriage between Kakko and the Rangers would be a perfect match. New York would be getting a player that is ripe with natural offensive skill and physicality that just speaks Rangers hockey. And the Rangers have the coaches in place to tap into his potential.
"I can see him fitting in right away," McGuire said.