Kaapo Kakko can’t catch a break this year. After spending 11 weeks on the sideline, it looked like he was back just in time to get ready for the playoffs, but that is now in doubt iwth the news that he’ll be week to week with a lower body injury.
While he hasn’t been ruled out of for the remainder of the season, you have to wonder what the likelihood of him returning will be. Head Coach Gerard Gallant was hopeful they might get him back for the remaining 2-3 games of the regular season, but with a diagnosis of “week to week”, it’s hard to square that with a final game on April 9th – against the Capitals.
It’s a disappointing turn of events, coming just one game after he scored two goals to help propel the Rangers past the Philadelphia Flyers. In that game Kakko looked confident, and strong…and it seemed as though he might be able to carry some form over into the playoffs.
As it turns out, he might be lucky to make it back for the first round, if at all. With the playoffs starting two weeks from today – though the Rangers could start a day or two later depending on the schedule – it would seem very unlikely he’ll be back for Game 1.
One player who might reap the benefits in the short term though, could be Alexis Lafreniere. Like Kakko before him, Lafreniere showed some good scoring touch over the weekend, with two goals of his own against the Detroit Red Wings, including a highlight reel goal to make it 4-0. Lafreniere had been relegated to the fourth line, and it wasn’t certain that Gallant would have moved him back to the third over Barclay Goodrow if Kakko had been healthy. With the 2019 second overall pick now out, Lafreniere looks set to shift back up alongside Filip Chyitl, with Goodrow sliding over to the right side.