The Tarasenkshow is here, and Rangerstown is thrilled, as months of speculation regarding who management would acquire to fill the void at forward and how they would address their lack of defensive depth has officially subsided.
When the Rangers take the ice on Friday night at Madison Square Garden against the Seattle Kraken, they’ll do it while debuting their new trade acquisitions in all-star forward Vladimir Tarasenko and shutdown defender Niko Mikkola, who were acquired from the ST Louis Blues on Thursday in exchange for a conditional 2023 first-round pick(Latter of the Rangers own selection or Stars pick, which New York acquired when they traded away Nils Lundkvist), a conditional 2024 fourth-round pick(Becomes a third if the Rangers make the playoffs) forward Sammy Blais, and low-level prospect Hunter Skinner.
The transaction has led to fans flooding various comment sections on this site in ecstasy, relishing the fine works of GM Chris Drury. So to celebrate, I’ve compiled some reactions from Blue Line Station readers and will post them below with a response to each one. Suppose you made a list; congratulations on the shoutout. Don’t be discouraged or offended if you didn’t, because should this post gain traction, there’s a chance of a mention in the next one.
COMMENT: Here’s an exciting question!……….. with the addition of Tarasenko, will Gallant and staff FINALLY mix up the Power Play units???
Perhaps a bonus!!!- RGSRBGolfing
A: You’re in luck, Golf because it sure seems that way from Friday’s morning skate.
The red-hot Filip Chytil was promoted to the first unit with Artemi Panarin, Chris Kreider, Mika Zibanejad, and Adam Fox, while the newly acquired Tarasenko was on the second unit with Kaapo Kakko, Vincent Trocheck, Alexis Lafreniere, and Jacob Trouba.
While my personal preference is to have Tarasenko on the top line, I understand the move here, as it looks more balanced this way.
Moreover, it could be temporary giving the forward time to get acclimated to his new teammates’ tendencies.
COMMENT: “So, traded Blais and sent Cuylle down. Instead of adding more grit, they subtracted what little forward grit they had. This team will be manhandled by the likes of the Bruins and Lightning.” –NYR4life
A: While I comprehend your concerns, the 6’’4 Mikkola being here keeps the grittiness around, as that’s what he’s known for, while also being a shutdown defender with a powerful point shot.
Regarding Sammy Blais, it was virtually impossible to keep him, given his expiring contract and his lack of production. While it’s unfair to chastise him, considering he’s still rehabbing from his ACL injury from last season, he finishes his Rangers tenure with 54 games played and zero goals to show for it, which is the longest a forward has event gone without a tally in franchise history. Yes, he’s known more for his tenacity, but you must put the puck in the net at some point, right?
I wish Blais nothing but the best as he returns to ST Louis, where he was successful before being traded for Pavel Buchnevich in the 2021 offseason, and I hope the impending free agent finds his top form again.
COMMENT: “A Liking this trade. What’s left? Not much….a 4th line-checking center, hopefully with grit. Get out the broom for Kravtsov. Some prospect upgrades for Hartford, maybe. This cake is ready to be taken out of the oven.”- Andrew Madura.
With $1.6 million left in cap space, Andrew, I see the Rangers possibly entertaining trading for a fourth-line checker like Tyler Motte or Gustav Nyquist, but it’s not necessary.
In Kravtsov’s case, the acquisition of a right-winger in Tarasenko and his previous chemistry with the breadman gives Rangers coach Gerard Gallant a reason to shift Jimmy Vesey to the bottom six away from the first line while elevating the 23-year-old to the second line, who has experienced success with Vincent Trochcek and Chris Kreider. Now about that cake, which frosting do you prefer?
COMMENT: “Can you tell I’m super excited about this trade!!!!!?” –Venom Truth
A: Yes, Venom Truth, we can hear your screams through our screens.
COMMENT: “Gotta give Drury a lot of credit. Last two years, the team has gotten good players back as rentals and hasn’t overpaid. This is an excellent move. I loved Meier, but that situation was too complicated. San Jose wants the price of a controlled young player, but the Rangers can only view him as a rental. Tarasenko is an excellent 2nd option, and to grab a big LD too is excellent!”- Joe Johns.
A: Considering Joe Johns said “No” to acquiring Tarasenko last week in his response to Lucas Standel’s “Why the Rangers should target Vladimir Tarasenko” piece, I applaud him for giving credit to GM Chris Drury right off the top. Reading this, JJ seems equally as excited for Tarasenko as he is for Mikkola, given New York’s needs on the front and back end.
COMMENT: “Tarasenko makes sense. I also don’t think it will be as expensive as you think, Jones and a conditional second, maybe a first because they retain 50%. Trade Blais for whatever you can get for him. Then your lines are
Bread, Mika, Sanko
Krieder, Tro, Kravs
Vesey Goodrow Gauthier.
–David Wood, one week ago!
A: What a call by David, and aside from the other conditional pick being a fourth and Druy convincing the Blues to take Hunter Skinner instead of Zac Jones, everything else is correct, including the line combinations the Rangers will likely roll with going forward. Fantastic job!
COMMENT: Rangers waived Libor Hajek. The end of an error.-Angelo Brattoli
A: Indeed, it was an error, Angelo. The 25-year-old was acquired as part of the return for Ryan McDonagh and J.T. Miller, dealt to the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2018. Unfortunately, he’s yet to blossom into the star defenseman he was projected to be. At 6’’2, maybe he can be intriguing to some rebuilding teams as he tests free agency this Summer.
COMMENT: “We shall see. Tarasenko has to make it through 30 games without getting hurt and has only scored ten goals…this is a move to win the Cup NOW. Just like last year’s trades. I do not see them keeping this guy.”-MoreGrit
A: While Tarasenko has been unable to play an entire regular season due to injury, he’s healthy now and was an all-star this year. All he’s here to do is be the best version of himself for a few months before he tests the free agency waters, where another team will offer him a contract the Rangers can’t match due to salary cap constraints.