There are still plenty of questions with regards to the New York Rangers lineup for the 2021-22 season. When Pavel Buchnevich was traded for the Blues for Sammy Blais and a second round pick, a huge hole opened up on the first line.
The Rangers are banking that Kaapo Kakko or maybe even Alexis Lafrenière can fill the void left by the team’s highest scoring right wing. However; a plan B is still being considered.
Vladimir Tarasenko wants out of St. Louis
Vladimir Tarasenko still wants out of St. Louis after his dissatisfaction with the way they handled his shoulder injuries. Despite his request, the Blues have told him to prepare for the season as if he will still be a member of the team.
“Vladi has to prepare like he’s coming back to St. Louis,” Armstrong said via The Athletic. “He has to get ready to play. He is a 30-year-old. I’m sure he wants to play for a number of years in the NHL, and he has to come back and have a great season.”
The 29 year-old has two years left on a deal worth $7.5 million AAV and a no trade clause which comes with a 10 team list. He scored 14 points in 24 games last season.
Teams where he’d be willing to go are the Lightning, Capitals, Islanders, Rangers, Flyers, Golden Knights, Panthers, and Bruins. At this time, few of those teams could even afford to take his cap hit on. Maybe the Islanders and Rangers could do it, but both would likely want salary retained.
At this time, the Blues are unwilling to do so, and there’s a real possibility that Tarasenko will start the season in St. Louis.
Rangers have not moved on from the idea of adding Tarasenko
Jeremy Rutherford provided an update on the Blues and Tarasenko in his latest mailbag for The Athletic. When asked about who may still be interested he noted the Hurricanes; Rangers, and Islanders as the top teams.
Carolina may have taken themselves out of the mix if the Habs decide to not match their offer sheet for Jesperi Kotkaniemi. The Islanders may very well be the favorites, but GM Lou Lamoriello won’t even announce the worst kept secret in hockey that he’s retained UFAs Casey Cizikas and Kyle Palmieri.
With regards to the Rangers, Rutherford states that they are still considering Tarasenko as an option.
I also think the New York Rangers have not moved on from the idea of adding Tarasenko. Yes, the Rangers traded Pavel Buchnevich to the Blues because they don’t have enough money to keep everyone, but Tarasenko has two years left on his contract, which is less than the four- or five-year term that it would have taken to re-sign Buchnevich. The Rangers have a few players they’ll have to re-up in the next couple of years, but that might not prevent them from acquiring Tarasenko for the final two years of his deal.Jeremy Rutherford, The Athletic
From what I can gather, this sounds more like an in-season move if Chris Drury can’t acquire a top center like Jack Eichel. That means the Rangers would still have $8.8 million in unused cap space heading into the season.
The Rangers are banking on Kaapo Kakko to seize the opportunity on one of the top two lines. If he struggles, acquiring Tarasenko begins to make sense, but only if the Blues will eat salary. The return will depend on just how much the Blues will retain.
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