Top prospect Kaapo Kakko will not participate in NHL combine

Kaapo Kakko will not participate in this year’s NHL combine.

The Finnish 18-year-old is considered the No. 2 prospect in this year’s draft. The NHL confirmed he would be absent.

Kaako led Finland to a gold medal at the IIHF Men’s World Championship on Sunday, as it topped Canada 3-1 for its third gold medal ever at the senior level. The forward scored five goals in the first two games of the tournament, and his overall performance could vault him into competition with No. 1 prospect Jack Hughes. 

His total of six goals and one assist was the second-highest point total by a U18 player in World Championship history.

The Devils are expected to selected the American center Hughes with the first pick in June, but Kaako is right behind him and will likely be chosen by the Rangers. His agent, Mike Liut, said NHL clubs “are fully in support” of his decision. The NHL also announced five other prospects that will not be in attendance.

The league expects 103 players to participate in the combine in Buffalo, New York.