Chris Drury and the New York Rangers aren’t sitting idly by heading into the 2022-23 trade deadline. The president and general manager (GM) of the Blueshirts worked his magic again, similar to what he did at the 2021-22 trade deadline. He picked up three players who should play a key role in their quest for a Stanley Cup. Learn how the trades shook out and more.
The Tarasenko and Mikkola Trade
The Rangers acquired Vladimir Tarasenko and Niko Mikkola from the St. Louis Blues for a conditional first-round pick in the 2023 NHL Entry Draft, a conditional fourth-round pick in the 2024 NHL Entry Draft, Sammy Blais, and Hunter Skinner. Blais hadn’t seen much playing time this season, and Skinner was a prospect with the Rangers’ American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, the Hartford Wolf Pack.
Tarasenko had ups and downs with the Blues since they won their first and only Stanley Cup in franchise history in 2018-19. He requested a trade after winning the Cup, but it was never granted, or the Blues couldn’t find a deal they felt comfortable with. However, with their season seemingly a wash, they got a deal they were happy with and sent the soon-to-be unrestricted free agent (UFA) to Manhattan.
Tarasenko will likely be a rental, as the Rangers are pressed hard against the salary cap and probably can’t re-sign him. The Russian-born forward had 29 points in 38 games with the Blues before being traded. So far, he has two goals and two assists in six games with the Blueshirts.
The Russian winger played his entire 10-and-a-half-season career in St. Louis before the move, so he may need an adjustment period. However, he’s a long-time friend and former teammate of Artemi Panarin. The 6-foot-1, 228-pound forward set up Panarin for the gold medal-winning goal at the 2011 World Junior Championship, and Panarin returned the favor less than three minutes into Tarasenko’s first game in a Rangers uniform.
Related: Blues Fetch Solid Return in Tarasenko Trade With Rangers
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Mikkola was the second part of the trade with the Blues. He’ll bring another layer of depth to the back end, providing the Rangers with the option of dressing 11 forwards and seven defensemen on certain nights, which can be useful in the playoffs. The 6-foot-4, 209-pounder from Kiiminki, Finland, played 15-20 minutes per game with the Blues, and head coach Gerard Gallant has played him about 15 minutes per game thus far. He has one point in six games since joining the team.
Motte Back on Broadway
After letting him get away during the offseason, Drury wanted Tyler Motte back. Motte couldn’t reach a deal with the Rangers and signed with the Ottawa Senators as a free agent. However, the Rangers felt they could use him again going into the playoffs and traded Julien Gauthier plus a conditional seventh-round pick in the 2023 NHL Entry Draft to get Motte back from the Senators.
Motte came to the Rangers at the trade deadline last season and played a limited role due to injuries. He did, however, provide some playoff spark and jam when he was in the lineup. He’ll help bolster the fourth line as well as kill penalties, which will be crucial if the Rangers want to get back to the Eastern Conference Final and beyond. He only played in 38 games with the Senators due to a broken finger, but hopefully, he’ll be able to stay healthy through the stretch run.
Drury Might Not Be Done
Larry Brooks of the New York Post says Drury may not be done. Brooks tweeted that Nick Bjugstad is among those on the radar. They could be looking for a middle six-piece or an upgrade at the fourth-line center spot. However, if no other moves are made, the Rangers are already poised for another deep playoff run after winning eight of their last 11 games with at least a point in 10 of those.