Rangers, Chris Drury “excited” to see how Vladimir Tarasenko fits in with impressive offense

Vladimir Tarasenko Rangers trade rumors
Vladimir Tarasenko (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
AP Photos

The New York Rangers turned heads Thursday afternoon with the acquisition of Vladimir Tarasenko and Niko Mikkola from the Blues for Sammy Blais, Hunter Skinner, and two 2023 draft picks — a conditional first rounder and a fourth rounder. 

For a team competing for a Stanley Cup Championship, it’s an opportunity they couldn’t let pass.

“It’s something we’ve been looking at for a while,” general manager Chris Drury told reporters. “It gives the two new players a little more time to acclimate to our group, so excited to do it now and get them in the lineup tomorrow.” 

Tarasenko, the main piece of the trade, has totaled 29 points in 38 games played this season, but it’s his scoring ability that left him the apple of Drury’s eye as the team looked for ways to improve. 

“[Tarasenko] is obviously an elite scorer, terrific player,” Drury continued (h/t Mollie Walker of the New York Post“. “We felt like acquiring a top-six scoring winger was something we needed.”

Drury also announced that both Tarasenko and Mikkola will be playing in Friday night’s contest against the Seattle Kraken. While most eyes will be turned toward how Tarasenko fits in with the top lines with Mika Zibanejad and Artemi Panarin, Mikkola also adds some extra depth for a team that was looking for some on the defensive end.

“This was a piece that I really wanted in there and to have it in there now and not wait on it…He’s a really good shutdown defenseman,” Drury added to Walker later. “Obviously, he’s got size and reach, as K’Andre [Miller] does.”

The Rangers’ general manager also made the note that Artemi Panarin was involved and spoken to about the move that brought a close friend to play with him. Even with two major needs on the roster filled at the current moment, New York has over $1 million in cap space and plenty of room to potentially add to the depth of their fourth line. 

That is something the Blueshirts front office is still going over. 

“We’re certainly still looking at ways to improve the group like we did last year leading up to the deadline.” Drury said (h/t Vince Mercogliano of SNY).

Drury later made the reminder that it was up to Gerard Gallant where Tarasenko would end up playing, while also alluding to the likelihood of the return of Vitali Kravtsov to the lineup as well. 

Still, there are few times a franchise like the Rangers can add a top player like Tarasenko. Drury made a big splash in last year’s trade deadline and was able to help New York get to the Eastern Conference Finals. For the second straight year, the Rangers and Drury have made a major trade. 

It’ll now be up to the roster and coaching staff to make the best of the moves. 

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