Report: Rangers Acquire Tarasenko, Now OUT on Patrick Kane

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Report: Rangers Acquire Tarasenko, Now OUT on Patrick Kane

Chicago Blackhawks

While the NBA Trade Deadline is going absolutely bananas, we had a blockbuster trade go down in a city that doesn’t have an NBA team any more.

The St. Louis Blues are reportedly sending star forward Vladimir Tarasenko and defenseman Niko Mikkola to the New York Rangers for a package of Sammy Blais, defense prospect Hunter Skinner, and first- and fourth-round picks (the fourth rounder is in 2024 per the report below). The Blues are reportedly retaining a significant portion of Tarasenko’s cap hit.

This obviously means the Blues are selling… and the Rangers are now out of the potential bidding for Patrick Kane.

Still looking for final details on the trade, but this one has many implications on the Blackhawks directly and indirectly.

Let’s Talk About This Specific Deal

The specifics on what’s reportedly going back and forth here:

Tarasenko is 31 years old and in the final year of a contract with a $7.5 million cap hit. He has 10 goals and 19 assists in 38 games this season for the Blues.

Mikkola, who turns 27 at the end of April, is a big defenseman (6-4, 209) who has appeared in 139 games for the Blues over the past three-plus seasons. He is in the final year of his contract as well, which carries a $1.9 million cap hit.

Blais, hilariously, was traded to the Blues (with a second-round pick) by the Rangers for Pavel Buchnevich last year. He has scored exactly zero (0) goals in 54 NHL games since the trade, but did score four for Hartford when the Rangers sent him to the AHL earlier this year. He is a UFA this summer; his current contract as a $1.525 million cap hit.

Skinner, who turns 22 at the end of April, is also a big defenseman (6-3, 205) who was drafted by the Rangers in the fourth round (No. 112 overall) in the 2019 NHL Draft. He has one more year of control with a cap hit of $850,833.

The Rangers were one of three teams in the NHL with multiple first-round picks in the 2023 NHL Draft by virtue of acquiring Dallas’ first-rounder for defenseman Nils Lundqvist in September. So they can make this deal while still having a first-round pick; St. Louis is reportedly receiving whichever of the two falls later in the first round.

As far as the nuts and bolts here, the Rangers gave up zero value on their NHL roster for a top right wing to fill out their forward group and got a physical defenseman in the deal as well. For the Blues, this is likely the first of what could be a few significant deals moving veteran pieces out and entering the tank.

How Does This Impact the Blackhawks

Well, first and foremost, I’m really not thrilled that another team in the Central Division has decided to call it a day on the 2022-23 season. The Blackhawks and Coyotes are already hanging out in the high-rent district when it comes to the draft lottery, so St. Louis entering the mix there complicates a lot. Let’s just hope they stay mediocre enough to not have a solid chance at winning the lottery.

The next reality settling in here is the Rangers clearly now being out of the mix on Kane. What we don’t know now but might find out at some point is whether or not the Rangers are pulling the trigger on this deal now (three weeks ahead of the trade deadline) because they have been informed that Kane wasn’t going there, or if they simply wanted to add a player of this caliber as early as they could.

What we do know is with Mikkola joining the deal with Tarasenko with only Blais going back off the Rangers’ NHL roster, the money for Kane straight-up would have worked. If the Blackhawks were willing to take Blais’ contract back (not a guarantee; he’s terrible). And the money would not have worked if the Rangers were also looking to add a physical defenseman in the same deal. They got two pieces in this trade, but Tarasenko is the headliner.

So the Blackhawks now wait for Kane to decide if he’s willing to move on, and potential target destinations if the time comes to go. But we do know now that Kane won’t be a New York Ranger without something dramatic happening in the next couple weeks.

Author: Tab Bamford

Tab is the Lead Blackhawks voice for BN. He is the author of two books about the Blackhawks, most recently "Chicago Blackhawks: An Illustrated Timeline" (Reedy Press, 2021). Find him on Twitter at @The1Tab