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Kakko missing Scouting Combine to celebrate Finland win at Worlds

Agent says NHL teams 'fully support' top prospect's decision

by Mike. G. Morreale @MikeMorrealeNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

BUFFALO -- Kaapo Kakko, expected to be the No. 2 pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, is not attending the NHL Scouting Combine this week because he is home in Finland celebrating after helping his country win the gold medal at the 2019 IIHF World Championship.

"Kaapo is not skipping the Combine, but circumstances such as a late World Championship schedule and country celebration prevent him from attending," Kakko's agent Mike Liut said in an email to NHL.com.

"It's important to understand the World Championship is the Stanley Cup for countries outside North America."

 

[RELATED: Kakko won't attend NHL Scouting Combine]

 

Kakko, who was the youngest player on Finland's roster, had seven points (six goals, one assist) and 40 shots on goal in 10 games at the tournament. Finland won 3-1 against Canada in the championship game May 26 in Slovakia.

The 6-foot-2, 194-pound right wing initially intended to attend the Combine but because the tournament ended late and the victory celebration began Monday in Helsinki, he decided to remain in his country.

Liut said approximately 3 million-plus people in Finland, a country of 5 million, were glued to their television sets to witness the country defeat Canada in the final.

"The celebration will take up most of this week and Kaapo should attend every minute," Liut said. "The NHL clubs I spoke to fully support Kaapo's participation with his team and country."

The victory celebration began in the presence of 40,000 fans at Kaisanimi Park in Helsinki on Monday, and among those in attendance was Finland president Sauli Niinistö.

"Inside a half-hour after they won the gold medal (against Canada), there were about 10,000 people in downtown Helsinki," said Goran Stubb, NHL director of European Scouting. "It was pouring rain and 9 degrees (Celsius) outside but the fans were waving flags and having a great time until the next morning. The Finns are hockey crazy."

Kakko, No. 1 in NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of International skaters eligible for the 2019 NHL Draft at Rogers Arena in Vancouver on June 21-22, had 38 points (22 goals, 16 assists) in 45 games for TPS in Liiga, Finland's top professional league.

 

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