Roughly a week after their Metropolitan Division rivals, the New York Islanders, made the first big trade of the 2023 trade season, the Rangers have answered. The race in the Metro, and the East in general, has been tight all year, and it’s starting to look like it might turn into an arms race.
Tarasenko’s name has popped up in trade rumors off and on for what feels like several years. A Stanley Cup champion with the Blues in 2019, Tarasenko has had his ups and downs since his team went the distance.
In the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 seasons, he played a total of 34 games, recording only seven goals and 24 points. It seemed that after five straight seasons of 33 or more goals and 66 or more points, injuries might be derailing things for the 2010 first-round pick.
Vladimir Tarasenko is heading to the New York Rangers.
Last season, however, Tarasenko rebounded, playing 75 games and notching 34 goals and 48 assists for 82 points. It was his first time reaching the 40-assist and 80-point plateaus.
This season, he has played in 38 games and has ten goals, 19 assists, 29 points, and a minus-18 rating. Needless to say, the Ranges are banking on his ability to still be a 30-goal scorer for them.
Things have been hot and cold in recent years for the 31-year-old, but in theory, he’ll fill an important gap for New York. Over the summer, the Blueshirts lost more quality forwards than they added, so this acquisition helps them get closer to last year’s Eastern Conference Finals form.
That alone is a huge win, but the Rangers also managed to get the Blues to retain half of Tarasenko’s salary, a move that was necessary to keep New York cap compliant. They had to send a first-round pick to St. Louis, but they want to win and have another first-rounder, so it’s a win.
Tarasenko’s move has a chance to be a game-changer for the Rangers, while this has to leave fans wondering what’s next for the Blues. One thing that seems certain is that there will be big trades early and often until the March 3 deadline.