Vladimir Tarasenko thankful for time with Rangers: keeps door open for potential return

Rangers have better fit with Vladimir Tarasenko
New York Rangers’ Vladimir Tarasenko (91) is congratulated by Mika Zibanejad (93) after scoring during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the St. Louis Blues Thursday, April 6, 2023, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
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TARRYTOWN — The Rangers felt that the team they had built during the trade deadline was one that could compete for a Stanley Cup Championship during the 2023 run. Many of the players brought in like Vladimir Tarasenko and Patrick Kane were on expiring deals making them essentially rentals for a few weeks. 

New York’s loss to the rival Devils in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs complicates what will be a difficult offseason for general manager Chris Drury to traverse. Young players like K’Andre Miller and Alexis Lafreniere need extensions which leave little room to try and bring back some of the high-priced rentals that were brought in. With just $12 million in cap space according to Cap Friendly, the Rangers don’t have a lot of room to bring back the young players they have grown, and the veterans that want to continue playing for a championship contender. 

That’s what made the gamble for Tarasenko, Kane, and others so massive – the team knew they weren’t going to be guaranteed to come back with them hitting free agency.

“It’s sad that we lost that last one, for me I’ve never been a free agent before. Just looking forward to seeing how it is. It’s interesting but it’s a new experience for me,” Tarasenko said Monday afternoon.  

Unless Kane or Tarasenko take less money to return as opposed to the open market where they could get lucrative deals, it’s highly unlikely either return to New York. That doesn’t mean they don’t cherish the time they’ve had with the current roster. 

“I like everything. I cannot say a single bad word about my time. I enjoyed everything… I and my family were taken care of very well. This is one of the top organizations in the league for the players,” Tarasenko explained. 

Both Tarasenko and Kane both said they’d be open to staying with the Rangers and continuing the championship chase they were on when they were initially brought in during the trade deadline. Both players are coming off completely different situations though. 

Tarasenko is 31, and while he looked to be a better fit with his Rangers linemates, could be in line for an extremely lucrative extension. Kane on the other hand is 34 and is contemplating a hip injury that could require surgery during the offseason. Choosing to stay and join a team that has Stanley Cup-level potential could be deciding factor for both players once free agency begins.

“I think the personality is more important than talent. I liked being around the guys every day. They were all nice to me. It was a very good experience,” Tarasenko stated. 

It’s going to be a long offseason for the Rangers with speculation surrounding Gerard Gallant’s future and a bevy of high-priced talent looking for long-term deals elsewhere. While Vladimir Tarasenko has certainly appreciated his time with the team, it certainly looks like he’s interested in free agency for the first time in his 11-year career.

But the door certainly hasn’t been closed on the Rangers just yet. 

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