The scoring in Game One between the Rangers and the Devils was opened by Vladimir Tarasenko and his goal set the tone as the Rangers went on to dominate Game One to take the lead in the series. As we continue on in this series and hopefully further into the playoffs, Tarasenko is going to be a key player and goal-scorer for the Rangers.
Since coming over from the Blues, Tarasenko has fit in very well with the Rangers and he looks like he is enjoying his time here. When all is said and done, the Rangers should enter the offseason with the goal of trying to keep Tarasenko for the foreseeable future as he has been a key contributor since his arrival in New York.
In 31 games with the Rangers in the regular season, Tarasenko scored 8 goals and had a total of 21 points. In his time here, he has played with a few different linemates, but he has mostly spent his time with Artemi Panarin who is his good friend. They have been centered by Vincent Trocheck and they have played well together. He has provided some key goals, including an overtime winner and of course, the first goal of the playoffs for the Rangers.
While he might not be the elite goal-scorer he was earlier in his career, he is still a great shooter and is one of the only Rangers who have a shoot-first mentality, which the Rangers need more of. He has done what he was brought in to do and he still has more to do as the Rangers continue the chase for the Stanley Cup.
When it comes to his future, that is the bigger question. On July 1st, Tarasenko will become an Unrestricted Free Agent(UFA) and can sign with any team that he wants. The Rangers should try their best to keep Tarasenko. He is coming off a $7.5 million dollar per-year deal and it is more than likely that he won’t be asking for that much money again. Tarasenko has made almost $62.5 million in his career, so will he be looking for money or will he be looking for the chance to win one more championship(if he doesn’t win one with the Rangers). If he wants to win with a contender, he will take less money and more of a team-friendly deal. If he still wants to make the most money possible, then the Rangers won’t be an option for him. The Rangers are going to be in a cap crunch this summer if the cap doesn’t jump more than the predicted one million. The Rangers have other players to sign like Alexis Lafreniere and K’Andre Miller, so the focus will go to them, but Tarasenko should be brought back if he is willing to take a team-friendly deal.
If Tarasenko does leave, the Rangers will be facing the same problem as they did before he arrived. Before he and Patrick Kane were here, the only legit right winger the Rangers had was Kaapo Kakko. With the additions of Tarasenko and Kane, it allowed the Rangers to have more depth on the right wing and we can see how much it drastically helps this team when it comes to their depth.
If both of them leave as free agents, the Rangers are going to be lacking once again. If one of Kane or Tarasenko comes back, it helps out tremendously with the depth issue and if you had to choose one to return, it should be Tarasenko. While Kane only wanted to come here and it seems like he might stay, he has not had the same impact the Tarasenko had.
And yes, we know Kane has a hip issue and he is not the same player he was before, but he just hasn’t been an impact player like Tarasenko has been. If you had to choose one, you pick Tarasenko.
This decision is one that is going to be made down the road and the focus should be on the playoffs. However, it’s not too early to start thinking about what it would like look if they could bring Tarasenko back for next season. He would still be a good player that they need in their top-six and he still has an elite shot, which the Rangers lack. As we continue to enjoy the ride that is the playoffs, let’s hope that when it’s over, Tarasenko is able to return to the Rangers.