Canadiens’ Kotkaniemi suffers spleen injury with AHL’s Rocket

Montreal Canadiens centre Jesperi Kotkaniemi tries to get up off the ice after being checked by Colorado Avalanche defenceman Nikita Zadorov. (Graham Hughes/CP)

LAVAL, Que. — Laval Rocket centre and Montreal Canadiens prospect Jesperi Kotkaniemi spent the night in hospital Friday after suffering a splenic injury during a game against the Cleveland Monsters.

The Canadiens’ American Hockey League affiliate said Kotkaniemi was scheduled to return to Montreal on Saturday for further evaluation by the NHL team’s medical staff.

The Rocket said the recovery period has not been determined. Kotkaniemi suffered the injury after taking a hit from Brett Gallant in the first period of a 5-1 Rocket win.

Picked third overall by the Habs in the 2018 NHL draft, Kotkaniemi was sent down to Laval after he had six goals and two assists in 36 games with Montreal this season.

With Laval, the six-foot-two, 198-pound Finnish centre has one goal and 12 assists in 13 games.

Kotkaniemi cracked the Habs’ roster in his draft year, producing 11 goals and 23 assists in 79 games.

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