February 9, 2023
The St. Louis Blues have traded star winger Vladimir Tarasenko to the New York Rangers
Another key piece that was rumored to be on the trading block come this years NHL trade deadline has moved. Just a week ago, The New York Islanders bolstered their line up by trading for now former Vancouver Canucks captain Bo Horvat, and now state rivals the New York Rangers have responded with a big trade of their own.
The St. Louis Blues have traded winger Vladimir Tarasenko and defenseman Niko Mikkola to the New York Rangers in exchange for forward Sammy Blais and prospect Hunter Skinner, and a conditional first-round draft pick in 2023 plus a conditional fourth-round pick in 2024.
Tarasenko, 31, is set to become an unrestricted free agent at seasons end, and hadn’t heard anything from the St. Louis Blues about a contract extension, now joins a team that consists of several players that he knows and calls friends. Among them, Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad, who could conceivably become his new line-mates in the big apple. Given the at times turbulent relationship between the Blues and Tarasenko, the winger would have more than likely found himself testing the free agent market this summer.
in 2021, Tarasenko had requested a trade as a result of frustrations over shoulder surgeries that had hampered him – and the way with which the team had dealt with the whole situation. That trade never came and Tarasenko returned the following season and put up career high numbers. Scoring 34 goals and 82 points in 75 games. This season has been a bit of struggle, as Tarasenko has managed just 10 goals and 29 points in 38 games.
The Rangers also get a behemoth of a defenseman in Niko Mikkola who will surely bulk up their blue line, help clear the crease, and make them a tougher team to play against. Mikkola, 26, stands at a 6’5″ and weighs in at 210 lbs. He has played in 81 career games with the Blues over four NHL seasons, and has amassed 5 assists. Sammy Blais returns to the Blues, who traded him to the Rangers with a second-round pick for Pavel Buchnevich less that two years ago.
>> Canadiens ink Cayden Primeau to three year extension
>> Canadiens sign Kirby Dach to a four year, $13.5M deal
>> Sean Monahan traded to the Montreal Canadiens
Despite the NHL trade deadline being March 3rd, there have already been two major trades in the last ten days, perhaps signaling that trade season is indeed open, as teams wrestle for position and a chance at a Stanley Cup run.