Examining the Injury Bug That Has Bitten the New York Rangers

NEWARK, NEW JERSEY - OCTOBER 04: Kaapo Kakko #24 of New York Rangers skates against the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center on October 04, 2023 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
NEWARK, NEW JERSEY - OCTOBER 04: Kaapo Kakko #24 of New York Rangers skates against the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center on October 04, 2023 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

First, it was Adam Fox and Filip Chytil. Now, following their 5-1 loss to the Buffalo Sabres on Monday, Kaapo Kakko will be out with a lower-body injury for the foreseeable future.

Fortunately, Adam Fox is able to (and likely will) make his return against the Red Wings on Wednesday. His absence on the back end did not leave the substantial hole that many thought it would.

The same can be said for Chytil, who suffered an upper-body injury in that same match against Carolina on November 2nd. Chytil’s timetable, however, is still unclear.

The club’s center depth was tested but has ultimately passed the challenge thus far.

Now, with Kakko down, the thin right flank in the top nine forward group becomes even more emaciated.

Kakko’s numbers aren’t flattering, posting a lowly 1 goal and two assists in 20 games played this season.

Yet he was a reasonable option in the top nine forward group that will be absent for some time.

The club hasn’t experienced this sort of a test from injury woes in quite some time.

Last season, Kakko, Adam Fox, Mika Zibanejad, Vincent Trocheck, Artemi Panarin, and Jacob Trouba all played the full 82 games.

Alexis Lafreniere (81),  Braden Schneider (81), Chris Kreider (79), and K’Andre Miller (79), and all played at least 79 games.

Lafreniere’s only game missed was a healthy scratch. Miller missed games due to suspension.

The club has not dealt with significant injuries to key skaters not named Filip Chytil since Artemi Panarin late in the 2020-21 season due to the Tom Wilson shenanigans.

Igor Shesterkin has missed some time in that span, but goalies don’t play a full 82 games anyway.

With that being said, how will they continue to handle the current adversity going forward?


The Rangers recalled Jonny Brodzinski from the Hartford Wolf Pack of the AHL on Tuesday, which almost solidified the extended absence of Kakko.

Head Coach Peter Laviolette later confirmed that with Kakko missing significant time, the club will have to dip into their depth from Hartford.

Brodzinski is a solid depth forward who can scoot. He has an NHL-caliber shot, which he certainly isn’t afraid to use, but he’s never been able to stick in an NHL role.

He is fine as a depth forward to fill an open spot for a game or two due to unforeseen circumstances, but Brodzinski realistically shouldn’t be used in a top-nine position.

Is it within the realm of possibility to see Brennan Othmann, the club’s 16th overall draft pick in the 2021 draft, at some point?

He would certainly not be a “patchwork” option for the club, and it could benefit the organization and the player to see what kind of juice the kid has at the highest level.

However, should the Rangers call up Othmann, he would not get the nine-game slide in his contract due to his age.

So if the club decides to call up the 20-year-old, it would burn the first year of his Entry Level Contract, and if he isn’t ready for the big leagues, that could be some serious mismanagement.

The Rangers could seek a right-wing option via trade, but as Laviolette indicated on Tuesday, Kakko will not miss the entire season.

So if the Rangers do make a trade, they would have some difficulty getting under the $83.5 million salary cap.

Ultimately, the team will likely rely on depth pieces within the organization not named Brennan Othmann for the duration of Kakko’s (and Chytil’s) absence.

Not ideal, but necessary. They have been able to weather the storm thus far. Perhaps they can continue to endure.

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