Rangers go big, acquire Vladimir Tarasenko and Niko Mikkola from Blues

The New York Rangers have made a big splash weeks ahead of the NHL Trade Deadline. On Thursday, the team announced they acquired forward Vladimir Tarasenko (50% salary retained) and defenseman Niko Mikkola from the St. Louis Blues.

In exchange, the Blueshirts ship a conditional first-round pick in the 2023 NHL Draft and a conditional fourth-round pick in 2024, along with forward Sammy Blais and prospect blue-liner Hunter Skinner.

“It’s something we’ve been looking at for a while,” Rangers GM Chris Drury said. “It gives the two new players a little more time to acclimate to our group, so excited to do it now and get them in the lineup tomorrow.”

The Rangers face the Seattle Kraken at Madison Square Garden on Friday.

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Rangers tade for Vladimir Tarasenko

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Jan 29, 2022; St. Louis, Missouri, USA; St. Louis Blues right wing Vladimir Tarasenko (91) looks on prior to a face off against the Winnipeg Jets during the third period at Enterprise Center. Mandatory Credit: Joe Puetz-USA TODAY Sports

Tarasenko, 31, is in the final year of his contract and will be a UFA in July. He’s registered 29 points in 38 games this season. For his career, Tarasenko has amassed 553 points in 644 regular-season games all with the Blues.

The talented forward recently represented St. Louis at the All-Star Game in Florida collecting four points (1G – 3A).

Mikkola, 26, will also be a UFA at season’s end. To date, he’s recorded just three assists in 50 games. However, he’s not known for his scoring as the defender likes to play a physical game. He ranked third on the team in hits (96) and blocked shots (68) prior to the trade.

Tarasenko is expected to play on the first line with Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad. Mikkola is expected to replace Ben Harpur on the third pair, partnering with Braden Schneider.

Meanwhile, the Blues welcome back a familiar face in Sammy Blais. The 26 year-old was dealt to the Rangers as part of the trade to acquire Pavel Buchnevich. In 40 games this season, he’s notched only 5 assists. Blais never scored a goal for the Rangers in 54 games spanning parts of two seasons.

Skinner, 21, was a fourth-round selection in 2019 by the Rangers. The defenseman has two assists in eight AHL games with the big club’s affiliate in Hartford. In 67 career games with the Wolf Pack, he has 17 points.