Montreal Canadiens: Jesperi Kotkaniemi Injured With Spleen Injury

MONTREAL, QC - JANUARY 09: Jesperi Kotkaniemi #15 of the Montreal Canadiens. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
MONTREAL, QC - JANUARY 09: Jesperi Kotkaniemi #15 of the Montreal Canadiens. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images) /

The Montreal Canadiens have been dealing with many injuries this season. Even their AHL affiliate has been afflicted by the injury bug. Jesperi Kotkaniemi is the most recent victim.

The Montreal Canadiens have dealt with a plethora of injuries throughout the season. They were healthy for the first six weeks and went 11-5-3 in that time. Since then, they have had at least one key contributor out of the lineup in every game. Their season has gone in the toilet during that time with a pair of eight game losing streaks and a five game skid.

Injuries haven’t been the only culprit that has resulted in the Habs not even being in the race for a wide open playoff spot in the Atlantic Division. More was expected from Jesperi Kotkaniemi coming into this season, but he did not deliver. He had 11 goals and 23 assists for 34 points in 79 games as an 18 year old rookie last season. This year, he had just six goals and eight points in 36 games with the Canadiens.

The 19 year old center was then sent down to the Laval Rocket to develop his game. He played well for the Rocket, scoring 13 points in his first 12 games with the Habs top affiliate. He was handling the puck much more often and looking more and more confident every game.

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The Rocket have recently caught fire and jumped back into a playoff spot in the AHL’s North Division. They started out that winning streak with a lot of help from Kotkaniemi, but continued it last night without his help.

The third overall pick in the 2018 NHL Draft was injured in the first period of that game with the Cleveland Monsters. He was hit hard along the boards in front of the Monsters bench and left the game late in the opening period and did not return.

It was announced today by the Rocket that Kotkaniemi suffered a spleen injury, was kept in hospital overnight last night for observation and will be re-evaluated by Montreal Canadiens team doctors when he returns to the city later tonight.

Spleen injuries are not very common in hockey, and details were pretty sparse coming out of the Laval Rocket twitter account. Worst case scenario would be Kotkaniemi’s spleen would need to be removed surgically which would come with about a two month recovery period. It happened to Boston Bruins defenseman Matt Hunwick in 2009 after fighting with Mike Komisarek in a classic Montreal-Boston playoff series. He was out the rest of the playoffs but returned the next season.

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There is no report yet on whether Kotkaniemi’s injury will require surgery or not. It is possible that his solid stint with the Laval Rocket has come to a close after scoring 13 points in 13 games this season. We will have to wait until he meets with Canadiens doctors until we know for sure.