Blues trade star forward Vladimir Tarasenko to Rangers

The four-time All-Star had spent his entire NHL career with St. Louis after being drafted 16th overall by the Blues in 2010.

The St. Louis Blues traded forward Vladimir Tarasenko and defenseman Niko Mikkola to the New York Rangers on Thursday in exchange for a conditional first-round draft pick in 2023, a conditional fourth-round pick in 2024, forward Sammy Blais and prospect Hunter Skinner.

Tarasenko has recorded 10 goals and 29 points in 38 games with the Blues this season. The 31-year-old winger has spent his entire career with the Blues after being drafted 16th overall in 2010, helping the club win its lone Stanley Cup in 2019.

Longtime Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko is joining the Rangers. (Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images)
Longtime Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko is joining the Rangers. (Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images)

Once considered one of the NHL’s preeminent offensive talents, Tarasenko has been hampered by three shoulder surgeries over a 28-month span, but he is in the middle of a resurgent campaign. Tarasenko will still provide surplus value to the Rangers’ top-six, bolstering a group that is looking to make a run at the Cup following last year’s appearance in the Eastern Conference final.

A change of scenery could be helpful for Tarasenko. Although he’s still scoring at a top-six rate, the Blues only controlled 45 percent of the expected goals at 5-on-5 when he was on the ice. With improved linemates and direction, Tarasenko ought to prosper with the Rangers.

Tarasenko was named to his fourth All-Star game this season, representing the Blues at the annual showcase.

New York has struggled to find consistent line combinations throughout the season, but Tarasenko could be slotted alongside Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad to form a unit that would possess three lethal scoring talents with high-end speed, puck skills and playmaking ability. Although the Rangers have struggled at times to light the lamp, they now have three scoring lines that can be deployed effectively in what should be an unabated arms race at the top of the Metropolitan Division.

Tarasenko is slated to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season but the Rangers almost certainly will work to find a long-term deal that satisfies both parties. There is no cure stronger than winning and if Tarasenko can help the Rangers lift their first Stanley Cup since 1994, we can only imagine he’ll be inclined to stay under the bright lights of Madison Square Garden for the foreseeable future.

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