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Rangers put Kaapo Kakko on injured reserve with upper-body injury

Kaapo Kakko of the Rangers skates with the

Kaapo Kakko of the Rangers skates with the puck against Andrej Sekera of the Stars at Madison Square Garden on Oct. 14. Credit: Jim McIsaac

TORONTO — Kaapo Kakko went from day-to-day to out for at least a week.

The Rangers on Sunday placed the 20-year-old Finnish winger on injured reserve, which means he will be sidelined for at least seven days.

The club called up forward Morgan Barron from AHL Hartford, and he will be available for Monday night’s game against the Maple Leafs.

Kakko suffered what the Rangers called an upper-body injury late in the first period of Saturday night’s 3-1 victory over the Montreal Canadiens. At one point, he was knocked down in a heavy collision with Montreal defenseman Alexander Romanov.

Coach Gerard Gallant, who said after the game that Kakko’s status was day-to-day, said at the Rangers’ optional practice Sunday that he doesn’t believe he will be out for an extended period of time.

"You hate to lose a young player like that, but hopefully it’s not too long,’’ Gallant said. "[He will miss] the rest of the road trip probably and then get him back next week. But we’ll see where it goes.’’

Although Kakko has yet to score, he has been one of the more consistent Rangers in generating scoring chances through the first three games. He’s been on the right wing of the second line with Artemi Panarin and Ryan Strome since the start of the preseason, and he also has been one of the Blueshirts’ top penalty-killing forwards.

Strome, who missed Saturday’s game after being placed in COVID protocol on Friday, remains out for an undetermined amount of time, meaning the Rangers are missing two of their top six forwards. Filip Chytil stepped into Strome’s spot between Panarin and Kakko on Saturday, and he likely will stay there until Strome comes back.

Gallant said he has an idea whom he will plug into Kakko’s spot on the second line, but he would not reveal his plan. The most likely option is Barclay Goodrow, who started the season at left wing on the third line but has moved around quite a bit in the first three games.

The absence of Kakko for a week highlights the situation with 2018 first-round pick Vitali Kravtsov, who refused his assignment to Hartford last Monday and has been given permission by the Rangers to seek a trade. Kravtsov reportedly has returned to Russia while he waits for a trade. If he had not bolted, he likely would have been called up instead of Barron.

Gallant was asked if the Rangers have talked to Kravtsov about returning to the organization and whether the 21-year-old might be an option to replace Kakko.

"That’s not my department,’’ he said. "Right now, I don’t know what’s going on with it. [General manager Chris Drury is] talking to him daily, I’m sure, with the agents. But I didn’t know much information about that.’’

Barron and Julien Gauthier are the options to replace Kakko on Monday night. Gauthier, who looked good in the preseason in the third-line spot that was thought to be Kravtsov’s, has played in one game and was a healthy scratch Saturday.

New York Sports