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Could Kaapo Kakko Sign An Offer Sheet This Summer?

Kaapo Kakko's career hasn't gone completely to plan in New York, raising speculation about his future with the Rangers.
Kaapo Kakko

New York Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant raised eyebrows by making Kaapo Kakko a healthy scratch for Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Tampa Bay Lightning. 

With the Rangers losing that game and eliminated from the post-season, some observers are wondering about the 21-year-old winger's future in the Big Apple.

Cap Friendly shows the Rangers with $13.5 million in cap space for 2022-23 and 14 players under contract. Kakko is completing his entry-level contract and lacks arbitration rights this summer. General manager Chris Drury could use that leverage to sign him to an affordable bridge deal. The New York Post's Mollie Walker suggested a two-year deal between $2 million and $2.5 million.

Walker's colleague, Larry Brooks, wondered if being scratched from that crucial Game 6 would prompt Kakko to entertain offer sheets from rival clubs.

Offer sheets are a rarely-used tactic by NHL general managers to try and sign away a restricted free agent from a rival club. If successful, the team signing the RFA must compensate his former club with draft picks based on the player's new annual average salary.

Since the salary-cap era began in 2005-06, only two RFAs have been successfully signed away via offer sheet. The latest was Jersperi Kotkaniemi when the Montreal Canadiens didn't match the one-year, $6.1-million offer he signed last summer with the Carolina Hurricanes.

Walker and Brooks believe the Rangers won't be able to match an offer sheet for Kakko if the annual cap hit exceeds $4.2 million. However, we don't know if the young Finn is open to entertaining offers from other clubs. With the salary cap only rising by $1 million for 2022-23, rival GMs could prefer investing their cap dollars on more established talent. 

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