Rangers right wing Blake Wheeler is helped off the ice...

Rangers right wing Blake Wheeler is helped off the ice by left wing Chris Kreider and center Vincent Trocheck in the first period of an NHL game against the Canadiens at Madison Square Garden on Thursday. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Forward Blake Wheeler, who suffered an injury to his right lower leg in the Rangers’ 7-4 win over the visiting Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night, is out for at least the rest of the regular season, the Rangers announced on Friday.

“When you lose a veteran player like that who has such an impact in the room, that’s tough to replace,’’ coach Peter Laviolette said after the team’s late afternoon practice at MetLife Stadium, where they will play the Islanders in a Stadium Series outdoor game on Sunday. “Certainly our thoughts are with him, and [we hope for] a healthy recovery at some point. But that’s a tough one last night. We’ll miss him.’’

There is a chance that Wheeler will return during the playoffs if the Rangers go deep in the postseason. But realistically, that seems unlikely. Given that he’s 37 and on a one-year contract, it’s possible he will not return at all.

“We all care a lot about the hockey and our jobs, but we’re also humans and friends and have families outside the rink,’’ said Jacob Trouba, who played with Wheeler with the Winnipeg Jets. “And I’m not saying this is true, but maybe he played his last hockey gam e . . . And it’s — yeah, it’s, it’s emotional. It’s something you think about, that you don’t take things for granted here.’’

A 16-year veteran who signed with the Rangers as a free agent last summer after he was bought out by the Jets, Wheeler had nine goals and 12 assists in 54 games this season.

The right wing had been playing on the Rangers’ top line with center Mika Zibanejad and left wing Chris Kreider. But even before Wheeler was injured, many had suggested the Rangers were in the market for a right wing for that line before the March 8 trade deadline. That need certainly escalates now and increases the pressure on general manager Chris Drury to acquire a top-flight wing to play with Zibanejad and Kreider.

Wheeler was injured midway through the first period Thursday when he was hit by Montreal defenseman Jayden Struble behind the Canadiens’ net.

He fell on his back and his right leg seemed to get caught in the ice and twisted awkwardly as he fell.

Wheeler rolled over onto his knees and stayed there for a moment as play continued toward the Rangers’ end.

He tried to push himself up off his knees to stand up, but he could not and fell back to the ice. He was helped off and exited through the Zamboni entrance.

At Friday’s practice, Jimmy Vesey skated at right wing with Kreider and Zibanejad.

Vesey, who has been on the fourth line all season, got most of the playing time with those two Thursday after Wheeler departed. Vesey played alongside both players at times last season and also played with them at times in his first tour of duty with the Rangers from 2016-19.

“I know that Jimmy has moved up the lineup,’’ Laviolette said. “I know he’s played in a bunch of different roles in his time in New York here, and some of that has been with Mika and Kreids. And so, to me, that’s a fit that we tried last night, and it was seamless.’’

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