The New York Rangers took the first steps to get restricted free agent Kaapo Kakko under contract on Monday by extending a qualifying offer to the young forward.
Kakko played the final year of his entry-level contract last season and the Rangers had until 5 p.m. on Monday to tender him a qualifying offer. The 21-year-old became a big part of New York’s surprise run to the Eastern Conference Final last season as part of the Kid Line.
He was kept out of Game 6 by head coach Gerard Gallant leading to some speculation over his place with the Rangers, but it is still believed that he is viewed as an important piece for the organization going forward.
“I’m going to show that I’m better than that,” Kakko said during his exit interview with the media about the benching. “You should put me in the lineup. I’m a good player.”
The Rangers don’t seem to disagree either as reports suggest the team is working on a new short-term deal for the winger. The bones of a two-year contract with an AAV of between $2 million and $2.5 million are in place, according to lohud.com.
A new deal could be announced as soon as this week or even before free agency opens on Wednesday, the report stated.
Kakko has appeared in 157 NHL games during the course of his career with the Blue shirts. He scored seven goal and 11 assists during the regular season before adding another two goals in 19 playoff contests.
Libor Hajek, Tim Gettinger and Austin Rueschhoff were also extended qualifying offers on Monday. Jacob Elmer, Justin Richards, Ty Ronning and goalie Tyler Wall were not extended offers and are now unrestricted free agents.