Rangers Receive Boost from Tarasenko Trade


New addition Tarasenko has helped out the Rangers over the past few games. (Courtesy of Instagram)

After a lot of speculation, the New York Rangers traded for Vladimir Tarasenko on Feb. 9 in a surprisingly early deal with the St. Louis Blues by general manager Chris Drury. The right-winger joined the team the day after getting traded to the Rangers in a game against the Kraken and scored a goal with an assist from his long-time friend and fellow countrymen Artemi Panarin. Though he only has four points through his first six games as a Ranger, morale and chemistry seem to have skyrocketed since he was added to the roster. Since the move, the Rangers have been inching closer and closer to the top of the Metropolitan division standings.

Tarasenko added a boost to the Rangers’ play and made an immediate impact in his first game on the first line with Panarin and Mika Zibanejad. The team was riding a seven-game winning streak, scoring a total of 36 goals in that span until an overtime loss to the Calgary Flames on Saturday night. They’ve gained at least a point in the standings for 10 straight games, with backup goalie Jaroslav Halak proving his worth as a dependable second option in net. Both Igor Shesterkin and Halak have been on a tear lately and are major factors in the Rangers’ success in February.

Panarin’s point production has been steady at roughly a point-per-game all season, but since the addition of Tarasenko, his performance has drastically improved; he has 12 points in his last six games. He scored an incredible four goals against the Carolina Hurricanes on Feb. 11 and added an assist to boot. As fans have seen in the past, when Panarin is playing well, he picks the team up with him. He is a big reason why the Rangers have been able to continue their point streak and extend the gap between the next closest team in the standings, the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Not only did the Rangers receive Tarasenko in the trade, but they also acquired Niko Mikkola, who has replaced Ben Harpur on the third defensive pair alongside Braden Schneider. The defenseman had a rocky start to his Rangers tenure, racking up three penalties in his first game. Since then, he has an assist in five games and a negative one plus/minus rating, making himself an improvement from Harpur.

In order to acquire Tarasenko and Mikkola, the Rangers sent former Blues’ player Sammy Blais back to the team, along with prospect Hunter Skinner, a 2024 conditional fourth-round pick (becomes a third if the Rangers make the playoffs), and the latter of the Rangers’ two first-round draft picks in 2023.

Prior to the season, star right-winger Patick Kane was rumored to be interested in a deadline trade to the Rangers. The Chicago Blackhawks’ forward expressed his disappointment in the trade, saying that he would have waived his no-movement clause in order to be traded to the Rangers. With the addition of Tarasenko, this seems to be unlikely, but Drury has surprised fans in the past. Another name that was rumored to be in connection with the Rangers is Tyler Motte, one of last year’s deadline acquisitions. He signed with the Ottawa Senators in the offseason and just got traded to the Rangers on Sunday in exchange for forward Julien Gauthier and a conditional seventh-round pick. Motte was excellent for the Rangers in the latter part of last year’s regular season and in the playoffs, as he wins board battles that lead to offensive chances for the Blueshirts, something they occasionally struggle with. He’ll take Gauthier’s usual lineup spot on the third or fourth line. After a loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Monday, the Rangers travel to Detroit to play the Red Wings on Thursday. The trade deadline is in just over a week, and Drury is definetly not finished building his playoff team just yet.