The New York Rangers lost Kaapo Kakko to a gruesome lower body injury all the way back on November 27th, nearly two months ago. He had fallen awkwardly in a game against the Buffalo Sabres, as it looked like his leg made a full 180-degree rotation.
Following the injury, Kakko was placed on the IR by HC Peter Laviolette. Since then, there were never any direct updates on his recovery as Laviolette maintained vague responses to questions over the last few weeks. All that was known was that Kakko’s injury was not season-ending and that the Rangers would see him play at some point again this year. But now, nearly two months after the injury, there is finally some positive news regarding Kakko’s return.
Kakko had “no real restrictions” at this morning’s practice
Per Vince Mercogliano, Laviolette said that Kakko had “no real restrictions” at this morning’s skate and that he was extremely close to switching to a full participant during practice. The 22-year-old forward had been skating with the Rangers in a red no-contact jersey for the last few days, but it appears that he is already progressing enough to wear the regular practice jerseys soon.
The Rangers are getting Kakko back when they need him the most
Now is the perfect time for Kakko to return to the Rangers. The Blueshirts have once again fallen into a slump over their last few games, and any help from an NHL regular would be beneficial to getting the team back on track. Kakko didn’t have the greatest start to the season before his injury, only netting three points in 20 games, but he was playing on an overall poor first line that struggled early in the year.
The Rangers also statistically perform better when Kakko is in the lineup, with many of their wins coming earlier in the season when Kakko was a full participant in games. Disregarding his rough start to the season offensively, his puck-handling skills and defensive abilities on the third line were a crucial piece to the Rangers’ success that will be welcomed as soon as he is able to return to the team.