Another young forward avoids arbitration.
Days before the two sides were set to meet before an arbitrator, the New York Rangers and Kaapo Kakko found common ground on Thursday morning, agreeing to terms on a two-year contract extension worth an average annual value of $2.1 million.
The deal, which now ties Kakko to New York through the 2023-24 season, ensures that the Rangers retain their hold of the player they used the second overall pick in the 2019 draft on, and gives Kakko another two years to tap into the potential he has yet to realize.
Needless to say, it's been somewhat of a rocky start to Kakko's career, though.
The 21-year-old now enters his fourth NHL season with more questions than answers regarding his long-term future, coming off a year in which he racked up just seven goals and 11 assists for 18 points in 43 games.
Despite his underwhelming production numbers, Kakko nevertheless slowly began to carve out a larger role for himself under coach Gerrard Gallant in 2021-22, logging a smidge under 16 minutes in nightly ice time throughout the regular season -- roughly one minute higher than his previous average -- while forming one-third of the vaunted "Kid Line" that played a big part in the Rangers' unexpected march to the Eastern Conference final.
The Rangers are clearly giving him this pay raise assuming that his development will have him exceed that value very soon. Whether Kakko can actually do that remains to be seen. But, for now, one of New York's key up-and-comers is staying in-house for the next two years. And that's a victory no matter how you slice it.