A couple of days after New York Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant characterized Kaapo Kakko’s upper-body injury as “nothing serious” and said he was “day-to-day,” the bench boss has now said that the young Finnish forward, who was a late injury scratch from Saturday’s 7-3 victory over the Arizona Coyotes, is “week-to-week.” This after a certain writer guessed that Kakko would not miss much time.
Kaapo Kakko is “week to week,” per Gallant. Filip Chytil is “day to day.” #NYR— Mollie Walker (@MollieeWalkerr) January 24, 2022
Meanwhile, the Rangers are down another forward for the time being, as Filip Chytil is still “day-to-day” following his departure from Saturday’s game with a lower-body injury. The Blueshirts are already hurting for top-six forward depth, so this is, obviously, not good news for them. Still, they have the requisite bottom-six depth, with a player like Morgan Barron, to dress a normal lineup with 12 forwards and six defensemen.
But why do that when they could do something worse? Gallant indicated that there is a good shot he dresses 11 forwards and seven defensemen for tonight’s game against the Los Angeles Kings. It sounds like one of the Rangers’ defensemen is a little banged up, so dressing a seventh would provide some insurance. Kevin Rooney would likely be double-shifted on the bottom two lines.
It sounds like Gallant is giving serious consideration to playing with 11 forwards and 7 D tonight. He hinted at one of the defenseman being "banged up" and said he liked the way it worked against Arizona with Rooney rotating between the third and fourth lines. #NYR— Vince Z. Mercogliano (@vzmercogliano) January 24, 2022
This seems to be a bit of a galaxy-brain approach to the lineup configuration. Barron, in limited action, has shown that he is perfectly capable in a bottom-six role. Why not dress him so that Rooney doesn’t have to split his duties across two lines? If a defenseman is truly banged up, wouldn’t it make sense to rest him for at least a game (even if his replacement is the embattled Libor Hajek)? The lack of trust in yet another young player (Barron) is somewhat troubling.
This is altogether a very curious situation, and underscores the need for the Rangers to solidify their top-six forward group sooner than later, even with the March 21 trade deadline still almost two months away. That becomes especially important if Kakko’s injury ends up lingering, and he misses more than a couple of weeks.