After waiting a few days a seeing Vladimir Tarasenko play two games with the New York Rangers, I have decided to write about my thoughts on the trade that brought the long-time St.Louis Blue to New York. I wrote about trading for Tarasenko about a week before the trade happened and there were a lot of comments on the post about why people agreed or disagreed. After seeing the package the Rangers gave up, we can say that the Rangers won this trade even if Tarasenko walks as a UFA in the summer.
Let’s recap the trade. The Rangers acquired Vladimir Tarasenko and Niko Mikkola for the Blues in exchange for Sammy Blais, prospect, Hunter Skinner, a conditional first-round pick in 2023, and a conditional 4th round pick in 2024. At first look, the Rangers made out very well in the deal. They gave up a player who was not working in Blais, a lower-tier prospect who most likely won’t become a full-time NHL defenseman and the conditions on the picks are very reasonable.
They are giving up the latter of their two first in this years draft, so they still have a pick in the very loaded 2023 draft class. The 2024 fourth turns into a 2024 third if the Rangers make the playoffs this year, which is very likely. Overall, it was a great trade for the Rangers as they push for the playoffs.
Now, we get into the players the Rangers acquired. Tarasenko has played two games as a Ranger and he scored during his second shift of the first game off a great assist from his friend, Artemi Panarin. He played on a line with Panarin and Mika Zibanejad for his first two games and they looked good together.
Obviously, it will take time for them to build chemistry and that is why it was great to make this trade weeks before the deadline as it allows both players to get comfortable in the new system. Tarasenko is the pure sniper that the team needs and he fills the right-wing void in the top-six. If he can play well in the top-six, the Rangers are going to become even more dangerous.
Niko Mikkola is a solid addition to the defense core as a bottom paring partner for Braden Schneider. He is a big, physical guy who can use his body to knock guys off the puck and to hit guys into the boards to separate the player from the puck. He will replace Ben Harpur and will likely be the sixth guy for the Rangers going forward unless they trade for another defenseman. Mikkola had a rough first game taking three penalties, but overall he has played a solid game and should be a good piece going forward.
The Rangers have made their big trade with acquiring Tarasenko. No more Patrick Kane or Timo Meier rumors. The Rangers till have some cap space to add more depth at the deadline, but this was their big move and it was a good one. Tarasenko is a perfect fit for the team and getting to add Mikkola in the trade and to not give up that much was a true success. Hopefully this will lead to a deep playoff run for the Rangers.