Heading into the season, there were some major question marks as to whether or not the kids could fill the holes in the right-hand side of the top six. As we eventually found out, the answer was no. It left management scrambling for an answer in the middle of February. They needed offensive help and they wanted to get it done way before the deadline. Who’d they pick up?
Vladimir Tarasenko. Tarasenko came into Manhatten and started to be the answer to the questions everyone had about this roster. Who was going to play on the right alongside Mika Zibanejad? Tarasenko did that in his first game and scored. While it wasn’t entirely smooth sailing through the remainder of the season after his arrival from St Louis, there was very little doubt that the Blueshirts would like this pickup.
How did Tarasenko reward the Rangers for removing him from a franchise he reportedly wanted out of months ago? 8 goals and 13 assists for 21 points in 31 games. While that isn’t awful by any means, that isn’t the player the Blueshirts paid that 1st++ for to acquire from the Blues. New York needs Tarasenko to help guide this team through the playoffs on a deep run and add some production where he can.
In total, Tarasenko finished the season with 69 games played because nice. Across both teams, he had 18 goals and 32 assists for 50 points. It’s a fine production, but if he can take that next step and really become one of the better weapons on this roster, there may not be anything anyone can do to stop the Rangers from steamrolling through the playoffs en route to grabbing the big mug that Bettman hands out.