End of An Era: Tarasenko, Mikkola Sent to Rangers for 2 Players and 2 Picks
St. Louis Blues superstar Vladimir Tarasenko got the wish he made almost two years ago granted earlier Thursday. He was dealt to the New York Rangers, along with teammate Niko Mikkola, for LW Sammy Blais and ECHL prospect D Hunter Skinner.
The Blues also receive a conditional 2023 1st-round draft pick and a conditional 2024 4th-round pick as part of the deal with the Blueshirts. The Blues will receive the lower of the Rangers’ two first round picks in 2023. The 4th-round pick becomes a third if the Rangers make the playoffs.
St. Louis does at least retain half of Vladimir Tarasenko’s current cap hit of $7.5 million. Tarasenko himself was slated to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season, which may explain why the Blues gave him away as soon as they did.
Tarasenko had played his entire 11-year NHL career wearing the Blue Note sweater, totaling 644 games played with 262 goals and 291 assists for 553 total points. His best season goal-wise came in 2015-16, where he scored 40 goals and 34 assists for 74 points en route to a 2nd career 2nd Team All-Star listing. For awards, he was 2nd in Byng Memorial Trophy voting the following season, by far the closest he would ever get to winning any NHL Honor without taking one home.
The 31-year-old Russian played in only 38 games so far this season and was in a scoring drought stretching back to Dec. 23, a 2-1 shootout loss to Vegas on the road. Tarasenko was also on injured reserve for quite some time due to illness and a lingering hand injury before being activated for what would be his last game in a Blues sweater on Jan. 30.
The importance of trading Vladimir Tarasenko to avoid him becoming an unrestricted FA is this- March 3 is the NHL’s official trade deadline, and considering the fact that Tarasenko himself had wanted out for while, it was only a matter of time before he was sent off.