Rangers acquiring winger Tarasenko from Blues

    Ryan S. Clark is an NHL reporter for ESPN.

Vladimir Tarasenko finally has a new home, and it’s with the New York Rangers.

Tarasenko and defenseman Niko Mikkola were traded Thursday by the St. Louis Blues in exchange for forward Sammy Blais, defensive prospect Hunter Skinner, a conditional 2023 first-round pick and a conditional 2024 fourth-round pick.

The Blues are retaining 50% of Tarasenko’s $8 million cap hit. As for the conditions of the picks, the Rangers have both their original first-rounder and the Dallas Stars’ first-round pick from an earlier trade. The Blues will get the later of the two first-round picks, and if the Stars’ pick is a top-10 pick, it will shift to next year and the Blues will receive the later of the two picks.

The Blues moving on from Tarasenko had been thought to be a possibility for quite some time. He was exposed ahead of the Seattle Kraken expansion draft back in 2021 but stayed with St. Louis.

Tarasenko responded with 34 goals and 82 points during the 2021-22 season to help the Blues reach the postseason. But a slow start coupled with what appeared to be a fractured relationship with the front office led to the belief Tarasenko could be gone. He was asked about his future during All-Star Weekend and said even he was unsure of his status going forward.

Less than a week later, he was moved to the Rangers.

Getting a six-time 30-goal scorer such as Tarasenko achieves a number of things for New York. For one, it gives the Rangers one of the most coveted players ahead of the NHL trade deadline. It also means the Rangers, who sit third in the Metropolitan Division, are now armed with another top-six forward who complements what they already have with Chris Kreider, Artemi Panarin, Vincent Trocheck and Mika Zibanejad, among others. Meanwhile, adding Mikkola gives the Rangers a top-six defenseman who has three points in 50 games this season.

A source told ESPN’s Emily Kaplan that the Rangers explored the idea of getting either Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane or San Jose Sharks forward Timo Meier. But the Rangers felt the prices were too high for either player and were also worried about the salary cap implications. Plus, the Rangers also voiced concerns about Kane’s hip injury.

As for the Blues, it’s possible trading Tarasenko could be just the start. Inconsistencies have led the Blues to being nine points out of the final Western Conference wild-card spot.

In Blais, they get a familiar face back having drafted him in 2014. He was part of the team’s Stanley Cup win but was later moved in the trade that brought Pavel Buchnevich from the Rangers to the Blues. Blais has five points in 40 games with the Rangers this season.

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