Rangers excited to get Vladimir Tarasenko and Niko Mikkola in lineup

The New York Rangers have made a huge splash by acquiring forward Vladimir Tarasenko and defenseman Niko Mikkola from the St. Louis Blues on Thursday.

GM Chris Drury wasn’t going to sit around a wait for eleventh hour to make a deal to improve their roster at the NHL Trade Deadline on March 3. He also wasn’t going to wait on Patrick Kane to make a decision to waive his no move clause, or possibly shut it down for the season due to a nagging injury.

“It’s something we’ve been looking at for a while,”Drury said. “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.”

Rangers excited about Vladimir Tarasenko

Niko Mikkola Rangers
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The Rangers added Tarasenko (50% salary retained) and Mikkola in exchange for a conditional first-round pick (2023), a conditional fourth-round pick (2024), forward Sammy Blais, and prospect defenseman Hunter Skinner.

Tarasenko is likely to be slotted on the right wing of the top line with Mika Zibanejad and his friend Artemi Panarin. The two were enjoying each other’s company at the All-Star Game in Florida last weekend.

“In doing our homework on this deal, I did have a quick conversation with Artemi,” Drury admitted. “We’re excited to have him in the group and think he’ll fit in nicely.”

Tarasenko, 31, will be a UFA in July and has 29 points in 38 games this season. For his career, Tarasenko has amassed 553 points in 644 regular-season games all with the Blues. He won the Stanley Cup with them in 2019.

Mikkola, 26, will also be a UFA when this season comes to a close. In 50 games, he’s registered just 3 assists. However, the Rangers didn’t get him to score. At 6-4, 210 pounds, he’s a physical defender. Prior to the trade, he ranked third on the Blues in hits (96) and blocked shots (68).

Gerard Gallant is expected to play him with Braden Schneider. The Rangers also waived Libor Hajek today, effectively making Ben Harpur the team’s 7th defenseman.

The Blueshirts host the Seattle Kraken on Friday night.

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Anthony Scultore is the founder of Forever Blueshirts and has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL... More about Anthony Scultore

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