NEWARK -- Kaapo Kakko heard his first cheers from New York Rangers fans Sunday, and he wasn't even at Madison Square Garden.
The Finland-born forward, selected No. 2 by the Rangers in the 2019 NHL Draft on Friday, was greeted by about a dozen fans at Newark International Airport.
The fans, who had been waiting at the airport since 2:30 p.m. ET, chanted his name and the Rangers rallying cry when Kakko entered the baggage claim area around 4:45 p.m. after getting off his flight from Vancouver, the site of the draft.
"It was so nice (of them) to be here," the 18-year-old said. "It was so nice. It was a good surprise for me.
"It makes me feel like welcome to New York."
Kakko posed for pictures and signed autographs for the fans, who were decked out in their Rangers jerseys.
Frank Deo, from Staten Island, said he got a tip from a family member that Kappo would be landing at Newark on Sunday.
His friend Rick Prignoli is already predicting big things for Kakko and the Rangers.
"This is great," Prignoli said a few feet away from Kakko. "This is going to be very exciting, it's going to be an amazing year."
Kakko will be one of 37 prospects participating in Rangers development camp, which begins in Stamford, Connecticut, on Monday.
"I'm ready to go," Kakko said.