The Rangers are far from a finished product as they aim to climb back into playoff contention in the Metropolitan Division, but they officially have landed their coveted Finnish product.
Drafting 18-year-old winger Kaapo Kakko with the No.2 overall pick in the NHL Draft on Friday night in Vancouver was a slam-dunk choice after the rival Devils selected American center Jack Hughes first overall a few minutes earlier.
"Of course, it was my dream to be No. 1," Kakko told reporters Friday night in Vancouver. "But of course, the second one is also good, and every team in the NHL is a good team, so I'm happy.
"I've never been to New York before, but I think it's coming. It's my plan and my hope I can be there next season."
Like with Saquon Barkley and Sam Darnold taken in succession by the local NFL teams in 2018, Hughes and Kakko will be forever linked as they embark on their New York-area careers at The Rock and The Garden, respectively. The American-bred Hughes likened the possible long-term rivalry with Kakko by making an NHL comparison to Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby and Washington's Alex Ovechkin.
Either team would be elated, of course, for these teenagers to make impacts as significant and lasting as Crosby and Ovechkin, two future Hall of Famers who have combined to win four Stanley Cup titles. The Rangers clearly are thrilled by the addition of Kakko, a sizable 6-2 winger who thrived alongside NHL talent for gold medalist Finland last months at the IIHF World Championships, netting six goals in 10 games.
"He's just a terrific young man, to start with, and he's a player that as a youngster has always played up, played with older kids and played in the World Championships before he was even drafted. It's quite a story," new Rangers president John Davidson said on NBC Sports Network's broadcast immediately after Kakko's selection. "For us in New York, this is a game changer, there's no question about that."
After various go-for-it trades left the Blueshirts with no first-round picks from 2013 through 2016, Kakko became their sixth first-rounder over the past three drafts, also including forwards Lias Andersson and Filip Chytil in 2017 and Russian winger Vitali Kravstov with the ninth overall selection last June.
They also traded the 20th pick in this year's draft earlier this month for Winnipeg top-pair defenseman Jacob Trouba, but they still own seven additional selections on Saturday. Those include two in the second round -- No. 49 and No.59, acquired in recent deals with Dallas and Tampa Bay, respectively.
Davidson, GM Jeff Gorton and the Rangers then can shift their focus to the next phase of their rebuilding plan, as free agency opens on July 1, headlined by a potential pursuit of top-tier unrestricted free agent forward Artemi Panarin of Columbus.
The Blueshirts also face contract negotiations with Trouba, a restricted free agent, this summer. And they have to make a decision on whether to trade or seek to sign an extension with longtime winger Chris Kreider, who is entering the final year of his contract ($4.625 million) before reaching unrestricted free agency in 2020.
"We have a lot of work to do, to be honest," Gorton told reporters Thursday.
In the meantime, the selection of Kakko greatly improves the Rangers' talent level, with several scouts agreeing with him that he's ready to make the jump directly to the NHL as soon as the upcoming season.
"He's a tremendous talent, a really good kid, really grounded, calm about everything. I can hardly wait to see the fans of Madison Square Garden just watch him grow right before their eyes," Davidson said. "It's going to be marvelous."