GREENBURGH — Rangers forward Kaapo Kakko, who suffered what appeared to be a significant lower left leg injury in the Blueshirts’ 5-1 loss Monday to Buffalo, will be placed on long-term injured reserve. Although he’s expected to miss a significant period of time, the team does not believe the injury is season-ending.
“Obviously, you hate to lose personnel, and he'll miss some time here,’’ coach Peter Laviolette said after the team’s practice Tuesday. “It's just the nature of the beast inside of hockey, and the injuries that pop up. We’ll get him back at some point, which is good news. But for the short term here, he's out.’’
Forward Filip Chytil, who has been out with an upper-body injury (a presumed concussion) since the Nov. 2 game against Carolina, will also be moving to LTIR, from regular injured reserve, retroactive to Nov. 3. That move is being made for salary-cap purposes. Chytil, who has missed 10 games, has been skating on his own, and will continue to do so.
“He's still progressing. He's still skating,’’ Laviolette said. “There was no setback there. It was just more … to clean up some room, and make things available if we need to make decisions or make moves.’’
Meanwhile, defenseman Adam Fox, who has been on LTIR since that Nov. 2 game and has missed the minimum 10 games and 24 days he needed to, is expected to be activated off LTIR and be available to play Wednesday when the Rangers host the Detroit Red Wings.
“He looks fine out there. He looks good,’’ Laviolette said of Fox. “He's making plays [in practice]. He's skating. He's been cleared full go, for days now.’’
With Fox coming back, the Rangers returned defenseman Connor Mackey to AHL Hartford. But with Kakko and Chytil both on LTIR, they only had 11 healthy forwards on the roster, so forwards Jonny Brodzinski and Adam Edstrom were called up from Hartford and both practiced with the team Tuesday. After practice, Edstrom was returned to Hartford.
Brodzinski, who played well in training camp and the preseason, was the final cut from camp after rookie Will Cuylle forced his way onto the roster. But Brodzinski has continued to play well and is leading the AHL in scoring with 25 points (11 goals, 14 assists) in 16 games.
“It's kind of been the story the last couple years,’’ Brodzinski said of not letting the disappointment of being sent down affect his play. “Just [kept my] head to the grindstone, and kept pushing. I know I'm a leader down there and going to be a leader for those younger guys . . . trying to teach them as much as I can about being a pro, and getting to the next level and more importantly, sticking there.’’
Brodzinski, 30, was recalled once already this season — he came up after Chytil was initially injured and played one game, in Minnesota Nov. 4.
“Pucks are just finding their way in the net,’’ Brodzinski said of his successful start to the season. “Sometimes when you catch a hot streak, things just start going your way.’’
Fox practiced Tuesday with his regular defense partner Ryan Lindgren and resumed his spot on the point of the first power play. Erik Gustafsson, who filled in for Fox on the top power play and partnered with Lindgren while Fox was out, dropped down to the second power-play unit and retook his previous spot on defense alongside Braden Schneider.