Kakko missed the Rangers’ Saturday tilt with Arizona and appears to be out for at least the immediate future.
The New York Rangers will apparently be missing one of their young skaters as they embark on the second half of their regular season schedule. Per Arthur Staple of The Athletic, the Rangers have placed Kaapo Kakko on injured reserve with head coach Gerard Gallant projecting the third-year forward to be evaluated on a “week-to-week” basis.
Kakko was originally a late scratch from the Rangers’ Saturday game against the Arizona Coyotes at Madison Square Garden. The 20-year-old was said to have an upper-body injury that Gallant described as “going on for a little while” after the Rangers (27-11-4) earned a 7-3 win. He was originally labeled “day-to-day” by Gallant but now figures to be destined for a lengthier absence.
The second overall pick of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, Kakko has earned 14 points (5 goals, 9 assists) in 37 games this season. He had played only 27 minutes over the last two games, including 14:02 in the Rangers’ loss in Carolina on Friday.
In immediate response to the Kakko departure, Gallant hinted that he could go with an 11-forward set-up when the Rangers take on the Los Angeles Kings at MSG on Monday night (7 p.m. ET, MSG+), dressing seven defensemen. Vince Z. Mercogliano of the USA Today network hinted at such a strategy, as Gallant was pleased with the way Kevin Rooney rotated on the bottom lines after Filip Chytil (whom Gallant labeled day-to-day) was forced to leave with an injury.
It sounds like Gallant is giving serious consideration to playing with 11 forwards and 7 D tonight. He hinted at one of the defenseman being "banged up" and said he liked the way it worked against Arizona with Rooney rotating between the third and fourth lines. #NYR
— Vince Z. Mercogliano (@vzmercogliano) January 24, 2022
Monday’s rematch of the 2014 Stanley Cup Final will be the first of four Ranger games this week, all but one staged at MSG. They’ll face the Columbus Blue Jackets on the road on Thursday before celebrating Henrik Lundqvist Night when the Minnesota Wild visit the day after. The week concludes with the Seattle Kraken’s first visit to Manhattan on Sunday afternoon.
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags