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Vladimir Tarasenko is dealt to the New York Rangers

Another prime trade target is officially off the market. After years of asking to be traded and listed as a top player on the market, Vladimir Tarasenko is no longer a part of the St. Louis Blues.

NHL analyst Frank Seravalli just broke the news via Twitter, prompting a ton of speculation from fans. Tarasenko was considered a trade target for many teams, including the rival New York Islanders. But his addition to the Rangers makes them even scarier up front, as he joins the likes of Artemi Panarin, Chris Kreider and Mika Zibanejad, creating a group of forwards that are all more than capable of finding the back of the net and generating at least a point a game.

Blue liner Adam Fox is also scary offensively. The Metropolitan Division has the tightest playoff race. The addition of Vladimir Tarasenko could prove invaluable for the Rangers down the stretch.

The 31-year old carried a cap hit for St. Louis of $7.5 million, and spent his entire NHL career with St. Louis. He was drafted 16th overall by the Blues in 2010. In 38 games this season (he was sidelined for about a month with an injury), Tarasenko has recorded 10 goals and 19 assists.

Breaking down Vladimir Tarasenko blockbuster trade

vladimir tarasenko  trade
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Defenseman Niko Mikkola will also be sent to the Rangers alongside Tarasenko. The package the other way includes Sammy Blais and a collection of picks, including a conditional 2023 first-rounder and a fourth round pick in 2024. Seravalli reported that Hunter Skinner, Blais and a handful of picks were sent the other way on Twitter. The Blues will also retain 50% of Tarasenko’s $7.5 million salary.

This deal essentially confirms that the Blues are in rebuild mode, blowing up the team to start fresh. With a dismal record of late and a season full of struggles, St. Louis needs to be sellers ahead of the deadline. Captain Ryan O’Reilly is also the subject of trade rumors, though his future is less certain, as talks of a contract extension have begun between him and the club.

Mikkola has played a solid season for the Blues defensively, and is a pending UFA with a $1.9 million cap hit. He could be a solid depth player on a young Rangers blue line. “Mikkola checks most of the boxes teams would want to find in a depth defenseman. He has size. He makes simple plays and doesn’t try to do too much. He can move well. He competes hard and is willing to sacrifice to make a play for his team,” Seravalli wrote.

Sammy Blais spent four seasons with the St. Louis Blues, from 2017 to 2021, before joining the Rangers for a season and a half. He will return to the team that drafted him in the sixth round in 2014. Hunter Skinner is a 2019 draft pick who did not crack the Rangers’ NHL lineup, and was selected in the fourth round. The 6’3″ defenseman weighs in at 205 pounds, and his acquisition proves that the Blues are looking to the future.

The Rangers, though, are in win-now mode, and Tarasenko could be the piece that sees them build on their playoff hopes, furthering the dream that saw them lose in the Conference Finals to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Tarasenko, in the past, has been capable of putting up 30 goal seasons, and could really pick up his pace on a team that already carries a number of bonafide talents.

St. Louis, who’s Central Division playoff hopes seem to be getting narrower by the second, next suit up against the Arizona Coyotes on February 11th. The Rangers are slated to take on the Seattle Kraken at home on February 10th, though it’s unclear whether or not Vladimir Tarasenko (who just competed in the NHL’s All-Star Game for the fourth time in his career) will be ready to go that early.

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