Mike Rupp says Vladimir Tarasenko is who the New York Rangers need

The New York Rangers are looking very good towards securing a playoff spot for the second consecutive season. When it comes to trade deadline rentals, Vladimir Tarasenko could be just what this team needs for a long postseason run.

NHL Network Analyst Mike Rupp sat down with Forever Blueshirts to discuss what areas the Rangers need to address come March 3 and some potential targets

“This is team that should go on for a long time in the playoffs,” Rupp said. “So you should add veteran pieces like extra forwards and defenseman. Second line wing is still an area they need help with.”

Vladimir Tarasenko a perfect Rangers fit

NHL Trade Bait Vladimir Tarasenko
Mar 29, 2019; New York, NY, USA; St. Louis Blues right wing Vladimir Tarasenko (91) plays the puck against New York Rangers defenseman Brady Skjei (76) during the first period at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Rangers top line appears to be set with Mika Zibanejad flanked by Chris Kreider and Kaapo Kakko. However, a myriad of players have tried to lock down the second line right wing spot which is currently held by rookie Vitali Kravtsov.

If the Rangers truly want to make a run for the Cup, they’ll need to upgrade that position. That’s why Patrick Kane remains the most speculated future member of the Blueshirts.

“There’s always going to be the links to Patrick Kane,” Rupp admitted. “There’s a lot of good forwards out there that I’m interested to see where they go.”

One of the most intriguing teams out there are the St. Louis Blues, who are currently out of a playoff spot in the West.

“St. Louis is interesting because their GM Doug Armstrong will not be satisfied with just getting into the playoffs,” Rupp explained. “He’ll sell at the deadline to do what’s necessary for his team to be better in the future.

“They’ve got Ryan O’Reilly, Vladimir Tarasenko, and Ivan Barbashev as pending UFAs. There’s been some links with maybe O’Reilly to Toronto, which would be huge for the Leafs. I wonder, how a potential land of Vlad Tarasenko would be on the wing (for the Rangers). If you had a second line of Panarin, Trocheck, and Tarasenko– sign me up for that.”

Tarasenko, 31, is in the final year of his deal with an AAV of $7.5 million. This season, he’s posted 29 points in 34 games for the Blues and still has an open trade request that has not been publicly rescinded. It’s also been speculated that he’s going to test the free agent market in July.

The winger is currently on LTIR with a hand issue but is reportedly expected to be back by All Star Weekend in early February, well ahead of the trade deadline.

“When I think of Vlad Tarasenko, that’s the intriguing one,” Rupp stated. “He’s 235 pounds and I walked by him at an All Star Game in Nashville a few years ago. He’s walking down the hallway and he’s so big… He’s so powerful out there and he plays in traffic…that’s the type of guy the Rangers need.”

Tarasenko has a full no-move clause, but some good news for the Rangers is that they are one of the few teams he’d be willing to waive it for at the deadline. That should help GM Chris Drury in what should be a very reasonable package that must include at least a first-round pick, and probably Vitali Kravtsov.

At the end of the day, the general consensus is that Patrick Kane is the Rangers top option. However, if they fail to make that trade, Tarasenko would be a great fallback option.

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