Kaapo Kakko happy to be back with Rangers after long injury stint
New York Rangers forward Kaapo Kakko has had two stints on the injured list this season.
The first time was October 18 through 25, where he missed four games with an upper-body injury. His second time around was much longer, lasting 31 games from January 22 to April 7.
During his latest injury, which was also an upper-body issue, it was believed he would be back before the March 21 Trade Deadline but it never came to be.
One thing Kakko did not want to delve into was if he suffered a setback in his recovery.
“I was hoping to come back as fast as I can but it didn’t happen and I just listened to the doctors,” Kakko explained via the team’s YouTube channel.
Kaapo Kakko happy to be back with Rangers
The Rangers clinched their first playoff berth on Saturday night. It was the first time since the 2016-17 season and four years after ‘The Letter’ was sent to fans.
It was a cool way for both Kakko and Kevin Rooney to make their long awaited returns.
“It was a little easier (to come back) with the team playing great right now,” Kakko said after practice on Monday. “We’ll try to win as many games as we can. That’s the plan.”
Things were tough on the youngster, but he was happy that he didn’t have to go through it alone.
“It was good to have (Rooney) with me on the ice,” Kakko said. “It was good for both of us.”
Being able to jump back into action was made easier with the nature of his injury, which was believed to be his hand.
“At least I could skate which was good for me,” Kakko explained. “I got time at the gym and I’m stronger and in better shape.
“Watching the games isn’t fun. You want to jump on the ice and play. I think you can learn (from watching). I think I’m a little better right now.”
A tough year for Kakko
Kakko, 21, has only been able to play in 38 games this season due to injuries. He has just 5 goals and 14 points for a .36 points per game average, which is only slightly better than last season’s .34 average.
For his career, the Rangers first-round pick in the 2019 draft (second overall) has 24 goals and 54 points in 152 games.
This summer will be an important one for him and the team as he’s a restricted free agent. With the Rangers having limited cap space, and his injury filled season hampering his production, what does a fair contract look like?
There’s also a risk of an offer sheet to consider.
So far, there’s been absolutely no report that either side is talking. However, the Rangers are in the driver’s seat when it comes to negotiations.
Unless someone tries to pull a Jesperi Kotkaniemi, which will certainly throw a wrench into Chris Drury’s offseason plans.
Editor’s Note: Corrected Rangers last game from Sunday to Saturday
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