Panini America announced Thursday that it has signed Finnish hockey star Kaapo Kakko to an exclusive autograph trading card agreement. As a result of the unique partnership, Panini America will have the exclusive rights to produce autographed rookie cards of Kakko, selected No. 2 overall by the New York Rangers in the 2019 NHL Draft.
Many of those cards will be available to fans and collectors directly through the company’s online store where Kakko’s cards will be featured. In addition, Kakko’s cards will be featured on Panini’s Instant platform or the Panini Direct app and will chronicle Kakko’s entire rookie season.
Kakko’s cards will also be found in the company’s promotional products created for Black Friday, Father’s Day and the National Sports Collectors Convention. His first trading cards (and Panini America’s first hockey cards since the 2013-14 season) are being released this week as random inserts in the company’s 2019 National Sports Collectors Convention set.
Kakko, a superstar in Finland, also will be featured prominently in Panini America’s marketing initiatives and a number of other key strategic Panini initiatives.
“Kaapo Kakko is nothing less than an international hockey phenomenon and his arrival in the U.S. – and New York, no less — is one of the most exciting developments the sport has seen in years,” said Panini America CEO Mark Warsop. “He’s expected by many to drive the hockey trading card market this season and is poised to become the next great athlete in the sport of hockey, and we’re thrilled to have him as an exclusive member of the Panini America team. We’re looking forward to working closely with him to create exciting and creative trading cards for fans and collectors and having him be a part of a number new initiatives in the trading card category.”
Kakko says he chose Panini because of their “creativity and their desire to push the envelope to continue raising the bar.” Kakko is the youngest player ever to win gold in all three International Ice Hockey Federation tournaments (World Championships, World Junior Championships and World U18 Championships). Upper Deck holds the NHL trading card license and will still be able to produce unsigned Kakko trading cards.