For portions of the season, Patrick Kane was the marquee name linked to the New York Rangers in their search to boost an offense that ranked around the middle of the NHL pack.
Instead of turning to the Chicago Blackhawks and getting Kane, the Rangers turned to another Midwestern city and acquired Vladimir Tarasenko and his expiring contract from the St. Louis Blues.
The Rangers will get 31 regular-season games to see whether Tarasenko can boost their offense, starting Friday night when they host the slumping Seattle Kraken.
A little over a week after the rival New York Islanders acquired Bo Horvat from the Vancouver Canucks, the Rangers landed Tarasenko along with defenseman Niko Mikkola on Thursday afternoon. The Rangers gave up conditional 2023 first- and 2024 fourth-round picks, forward Sammy Blais and prospect Hunter Skinner.
Kane has yet to decide whether he wants to be dealt from Chicago, so instead of waiting closer to next month’s deadline, the Rangers struck early to acquire Tarasenko, whose 29 points ranked fifth on the Blues. Tarasenko, who has scored 10 goals, missed nearly a month with a right hand injury before returning Jan. 24.
“It’s something we’ve been looking at for a while,” New York general manager Chris Drury said Thursday. “When the pieces started to come together, I didn’t really see any reason to wait. It certainly gives the two new players a little more time to acclimate to our group.”
It is unclear which line Tarasenko may appear on since New York’s revamped lines have been rolling lately.
After a 3-1 loss to the Boston Bruins on Jan. 19, Rangers coach Gerard Gallant reunited the “Kid Line” of Filip Chytil, Alexis Lafreniere and Kaapo Kakko and put stars Mika Zibanejad and Artemi Panarin on the same line.
In five games since the changes, New York is 4-0-1 with 21 goals.
New York kept it going with a 4-3 home win over the Canucks on Wednesday.
“We all kind of knew that wasn’t our best game, but we found a way to get two points,” New York defenseman K’Andre Miller said. “That’s the biggest thing.”
Chytil tied a career high by scoring in his fifth straight game, giving him 11 goals in his past 13 contests.
Seattle won eight straight from Jan. 1-14 but is 3-5-1 in its past nine games. The Kraken scored 41 times during their winning streak, but their offense has produced 20 goals since.
Seattle fell to 0-2-0 on its five-game road trip when it followed up a 4-0 loss to the Islanders on Tuesday by allowing two power-play goals in a 3-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils on Thursday.
Adam Larsson scored for the Kraken, but Seattle was held to one goal or fewer for the fourth time in its nine-game slide.
“Sometimes you’re doing a lot of good things and not getting rewarded,” Seattle center Alex Wennberg said. “But you can’t look at it and be, ‘Oh, we don’t have luck.’ You earn luck. So, right now we’ve just got to keep doing the right things, keep shooting the puck and eventually it’s going to come.”
The Kraken also played their first game since losing leading scorer Andre Burakovsky to a lower-body injury. Burakovsky was injured early in the Tuesday game and is week-to-week.
–Field Level Media