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Rangers Call Up Morgan Barron; Place Kaapo Kakko on IR

NHL: New York Rangers at Boston Bruins Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers have recalled forward Morgan Barron from AHL Hartford, which coincides with Kaapo Kakko going to IR after his upper-body injury suffered during Saturday night’s game in Montreal.

In addition, center Ryan Strome remains in COVID-19 protocol, so it seems safe to assume Greg McKegg will remain with the parent club until that changes—even if it’s just as a healthy scratch for insurance in the short-term.

The good news for the Rangers is that despite Kakko landing on IR, coach Gerard Gallant does not anticipate him being out long-term. For a team that’s already shorthanded on right wing thanks to the offseason Pavel Buchnevich trade and the ongoing drama with Vitali Kravtsov, a long-term injury to Kakko would have been disastrous.

For Barron, it’s another opportunity to show what he can do at the NHL level. The 22-year-old picked up a goal in a five-game cup of coffee with the Rangers at the end of last season, and was on the cusp of making the roster out of training camp. He already has two goals in two games with Hartford this season.

The recent call-ups of McKegg and Barron to compensate for the absences of Strome and Kakko also underscore the rift between Kravtsov and the organization. With more scoring needed at right wing, Kravtsov would have otherwise been a prime candidate for a call-up, but he might very well have played his last game for the Rangers or Wolf Pack.

It will be interesting to see how Gallant configures the lineup with Barron, McKegg, and Julien Gauthier as candidates to slot in. Gallant says he knows who’s going to take the right wing spot on the second line, but that he will not yet reveal that — you’ve got to love NHL secrecy.

My bet would be on Barclay Goodrow moving up to that spot, and Barron getting a chance to center the third line, while Gauthier gets another look. But we might see multiple looks over the next few games while at least one of Strome and Kakko remain out of the lineup.