Kakko debut delayed
Kaapo Kakko, the No. 2 pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, missed the New York Rangers' first game at the 2019 NHL Prospect Tournament in Traverse City, Michigan, because of an illness.
"Obviously he was feeling a little under the weather," Hartford (American Hockey League) coach Kris Knoblauch said. "He's going to come tomorrow (for the morning skate), be on the ice, and we will see how he feels. He might play tomorrow night.
"If it was an injury or something like that, we would definitely be very cautious with him, but it is a little bit of an illness. But I think he is feeling much better. Tomorrow he might be 100 percent. There is absolutely no rush to put him in. It's not like it is a must-win game or anything like that. But the organization would like to see him."
The Rangers play the Dallas Stars on Saturday at 7 p.m. New York lost to the Columbus Blue Jackets 6-2 on Friday. Dallas defeated the Minnesota Wild 2-1.
New York plays the Wild on Monday (2 p.m.). The Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings, St. Louis Blues and Toronto Maple Leafs are also at the tournament.
Hughes ready for action
Jack Hughes said he was excited to play his first game for the New Jersey Devils, against the Buffalo Sabres at the 2019 Prospects Challenge at HarborCenter on Friday.
"Summer is over and hockey season has started so it's really nice and I'm ready to go," the center said. "I just want to play well, get my conditioning and hockey legs back. For me it's kind of two or three games to kind of get back in shape and be really feeling good come Devils training camp (beginning Sept. 13)."
[RELATED: Hughes to make Devils debut at Prospects Challenge]
Hughes, the No. 1 pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, is expected to play two of the Devils' three games during the four-day tournament. The Sabres host the round-robin event, which includes prospects from the Boston Bruins and Pittsburgh Penguins.
Hughes will be on the top line between left wing Jesper Boqvist (2017 NHL Draft, No. 36) and Nathan Bastian (2016 NHL Draft, No. 41).
"[Boqvist] is fun to play with," Hughes said. "He's skilled, smart and can fly. He's a really smart player and that's step one on kind of building some chemistry so hopefully we can get it going and keep it going."
-- Mike G. Morreale
Cozens to play for Sabres
Dylan Cozens has been cleared to play for the Buffalo Sabres at the 2019 Prospects Challenge this weekend at HarborCenter and was in the lineup against the Devils at 7 p.m. on Friday.
Cozens, who was selected by the Sabres with the No. 7 pick of the 2019 NHL Draft, had surgery in early July after dislocating his left thumb June 29 during a 3-on-3 tournament on the final day of development camp.
"Obviously you want to be in the lineup, you want to play," the center said. "I didn't use it for a while so the biggest focus was just restrengthening it and being able to do normal day things again. It came good and it's feeling good right now."
He'll be on the ice against the Devils' Jack Hughes, the No. 1 pick of the 2019 draft, but said that isn't added motivation.
"I'm not really focusing on other guys," he said. "I'm focusing on myself. I want to go out there and play because I feel good, not go out and play because I want to play against Jack Hughes. I want to go out and play because I love the game of hockey and I want to get back on the ice."
-- Heather Engel
Rookie tournaments getting started
Friday was the first day for three of the five rookie tournaments being held this week. A total of 24 teams will be represented.
The 2019 Prospects Challenge, at HarborCenter in Buffalo, runs Friday through Monday, featuring the Buffalo Sabres, New Jersey Devils, Boston Bruins and Pittsburgh Penguins. Devils center Jack Hughes, the No. 1 pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, will play a game in an NHL jersey for the first time. Sabres defenseman Henri Jokiharju, acquired from the Chicago Blackhawks for forward Alexander Nylander on July 9, will get his first chance to impress the local fans. Sabres forward Dylan Cozens, selected No. 7 in the 2019 draft, has been cleared to participate after having surgery on his left thumb July 3.
The 2019 Rookie Showcase, at CAA Arena in Belleville, Ontario, runs Friday through Monday, and includes the Ottawa Senators, Montreal Canadiens and Winnipeg Jets. Among those prospects scheduled to participate are forward Drake Batherson (2017 NHL Draft, No. 121) and defenseman Erik Brannstrom (trade with Vegas Golden Knights in February) of the Senators, center Ryan Poehling (2017 draft, No. 25) of the Canadiens, and forward Kristian Vesalainen (2017 draft, No. 24) of the Jets.
The 2019 NHL Prospect Tournament, at Centre Ice Arena in Traverse City, Michigan, runs Friday through Tuesday and features the Blackhawks, Rangers, Detroit Red Wings, Columbus Blue Jackets, Dallas Stars, Minnesota Wild, St. Louis Blues and Toronto Maple Leafs. The Rangers will have three players projected to remain on the NHL roster all season in forwards Kaapo Kakko (2019 draft, No. 2) and Vitali Kravtsov (2018 NHL Draft, No. 9) and defenseman Adam Fox (trade with Carolina Hurricanes, April 2019). Kakko won't play Friday because of an illness and is day to day.
The 2019 Anaheim Rookie Faceoff, at Great Park Ice & FivePoint Arena in Irvine, California, runs Saturday through Tuesday and includes the Anaheim Ducks, Golden Knights, Los Angeles Kings, San Jose Sharks, Arizona Coyotes and Colorado Avalanche.
Prospects to watch include Ducks forwards Troy Terry (2015 NHL Draft, No. 148), Sam Steel (2016 NHL Draft, No. 30) and Max Comtois (2017 draft, No. 50), Avalanche defenseman Bowen Byram (2019 draft, No. 4), Golden Knights forward Cody Glass (2017 draft, No. 6), Coyotes forward Barrett Hayton (2018 draft, No. 5), Kings forward Rasmus Kupari (2018 draft, No. 20) and Sharks defenseman Ryan Merkley (2018 draft, No. 21).
The 2019 NHL Prospects Showcase at Ford Ice Center in Antioch, Tennessee, will be held Saturday through Tuesday and features the Hurricanes, Nashville Predators, Tampa Bay Lightning and Washington Capitals. A few top prospects to watch include Predators defenseman Dante Fabbro (2016 draft, No. 17), Lightning defenseman Callan Foote (2017 draft, No. 14) and Capitals goalie Ilya Samsonov (2015 draft, No. 22).