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It is the off-season for the New York Rangers and if watching the Bruins play the Blues in the Stanley Cup Finals doesn’t float your boat, it may be fun to speculate on completely illogical topics.
With the NHL Entry Draft only weeks away, the New York Rangers will end up with with Jack Hughes or Kaapo Kakko (unless the world ends). So, here is today’s version of speculative nonsense. What uniform number will either Kakko or Hughes wear if they become Blueshirts?
Let’s start with the most likely future Ranger, Finnish star Kaapo Kakko. This one is easy. For the last couple of years, Kakko has worn uniform number 24. If he wants to keep that number, he will have to persuade Boo Nieves to give it up.
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30 Rangers have worn number 24, including some distinguished alumni including Ryan Callahan, Pierre Larouche and Red Berenson. One of the most obscure number 24’s was Joe Zanussi who is known as the most “famous spare tire” in the trade of Jean Ratelle and Brad Park for Phil Esposito and Carol Vadnais.
Callahan wore the number for six years, the longest span of any Ranger. Since he was traded and before Nieves, it was sported by Ryan Malone and Oscar Lindberg.
If Kakko has no sentimental attachment to number 24, my suggestion would be that he take number eight, worn by the greatest Finnish hockey player of all time, Teemu Selanne. Number eight is there for the taking, last worn by Cody McLeod.
Jack Hughes will most likely end up with the New Jersey Devils, but if he does fall into the Rangers’ lap, he may look to wear number six, the number he has worn with the U.S. National Development Program Team and most recently at the World Championships. Some have noted that he has also worn number 43, but the NDTP assigns numbers to their U17 and U18 teams with the U17 team assigned numbers 26-50.
If Hughes makes it to the Rangers, number six is there waiting for him. 45 players have worn the number and it has traditionally been assigned to a defenseman. It was last worn by Dylan McIlrath in 2017 and Manny Malhotra was the last forward to wear number six, back in 2002.
Darius Kaspararitis had number six the longest (four years) and for you trivia buffs, it was Glen Sather‘s number when he was a Ranger in the early seventies.
Six would be a pretty good number for Jack Hughes if he becomes a Ranger. The single digit would be warranted for a budding star.
Some other numbers
It will be interesting to see what number Igor Shesterkin opts to take when he suits up with the Rangers in the fall. He has worn the same number for years in the KHL and it’s doubtful that it will be available. We all know that number 30 belongs to the King and Shesterkin will have to find another number to wear.
Vitali Kravtsov has worn number 14 at the World Junior Championships and sported number 74 while playing for Traktor in the KHL. When he was selected at the draft last year, the jersey he was given by the team had number 18, but that belongs to Marc Staal. Either 14 or 74 would work. Number 14 has been worn by 44 players, last by Chris Mueller in 2014. One only player, defenseman Joel Bouchard, has worn number 74.
All of these young players will make their first appearances at the Rangers prospect development camp after the Entry Draft. Last year, Kravtsov wore number 74 at the camp and we will see what numbers Shesterkin and either Kakko or Hughes will take. Until then, it’s fun to speculate.