Kaapo Kakko making progress toward Rangers return
On Monday, another update was provided on New York Rangers forward Kaapo Kakko, who has been skating on his own since suffering a lower-body injury on November 27th.
The 2019 second overall pick fell awkwardly in the corner during a loss to the Buffalo Sabres. New York subsequently put Kakko on LTIR, which required him to miss at least 10 games and 24 days. To date, he’s been out 15 games and counting.
“Kappo’s progressing and moving in the right direction,” head coach Peter Laviolette noted. “Skating on his own right now.”
Kaapo Kakko progressing
When Kakko eventually returns, he will also be looking to bounce back from a poor start. The 22 year-old was struggling mightily with just 2 goals and 3 points in 20 games before the injury. His offensive play was so ineffective that he was demoted off a formidable line with Chris Kreider and Mika Zibanejad in favor of 37 year-old veteran Blake Wheeler to the team’s third line.
This is a contract year for Kakko, who will likely face a difficult negotiation this summer. Coming off a two-year bridge deal worth $2.1M AAV, he may have to settle for another bridge deal for similar value.
The Rangers enter the 2024 calendar year with 51 points at 25-9-1, making them the first team to hit that benchmark this season. The last Rangers team to accomplish that feat was the 1993-94 squad.
They’ll will be back in action on Tuesday in a Metropolitan Division battle against the second-place Carolina Hurricanes (20-13-4) at Madison Square Garden. New York currently has a 7 point lead over the Canes. Face-off is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. ET.