Vesey injury update Today bug

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Jimmy Vesey is out week to week for the New York Rangers with an upper-body injury and will miss Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Florida Panthers at Amerant Bank Arena on Sunday (3 p.m. ET; ABC, ESPN+, SN, TVAS, CBC).

Vesey sustained the injury on a hit from Panthers forward Ryan Lomberg at 11:48 of the second period in the Rangers’ 2-1 overtime win in Game 2 on Friday, which evened the best-of-7 series. Coach Peter Laviolette would not say who will replace the 30-year-old forward in New York's lineup.

“We know when you go through the whole thing it’s a long grind and things pop up like it did last night and you need a lot of players available,” Laviolette said Saturday. “So, we’ve got a lot of guys who are ready to jump back into the lineup, and that’s a good thing for us. We were getting healthy, and so we take a little bit of a hit last night, but it’s nice to have the players that are ready to go.”

Vesey has three points (one goal, two assists) and is averaging 11:11 of ice time in 12 games in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. During the regular season, Vesey had 26 points (13 goals, 13 assists) and averaged 12:23 of ice time in 80 games.

Kaapo Kakko and Blake Wheeler are among the candidates to replace Vesey.

Kakko was a healthy scratch for the first time in the playoffs on Friday. The 23-year-old has two points (one goal, one assist) in 11 playoff games after he had 19 points (13 goals, six assists) in 61 games during the regular season.

Wheeler hasn’t played since sustaining a lower-body injury against the Montreal Canadiens on Feb. 15. The 37-year-old was cleared for contact on May 13 and said six days later that he was "ready in any capacity I can help out.”

Laviolette said Wheeler is “cleared to do everything,” and has been working in practice to get back to game speed. When asked if Wheeler is at that point yet, Laviolette said, “He’s working at it.”

“Everybody when they come back from a substantial injury, at some point they’re cleared, but there’s parts where they have to make sure that their game is there as well based on whatever they’re dealing with,” Laviolette said. "... It could be anything. I’m not talking about Blake, but it could be conditioning, it could be game play, it could be your hands. It could be anything just to try to get up to speed and get into the playoffs.”

Wheeler had 21 points (nine goals, 12 assists) in 54 games this season, his first with the Rangers after signing a one-year contract on July 1. He has 45 points (10 goals, 35 assists) in 65 career postseason games with the Boston Bruins and Winnipeg Jets.