The New York Rangers recently missed out on signing their star UFA Vladimir Tarasenko, as the Ottawa Senators landed a 1-year, $5 million contract with the right winger. It’s not clear how much of an attempt the Rangers made to re-sign Tarasenko, as it seemed like both he and Patrick Kane were too expensive to be anything more than trade deadline rentals last season.
But after seeing the final contract, it seems like extending Tarasekno could have been possible if New York hadn’t signed so many depth veteran forwards and maybe got rid of a bottom-six player such as Barclay Goodrow. Either way, the deal is done and the New York Rangers must look for ways to replace Tarasenko’s contributions.
Replacing Vladamir Tarasenko’s point production
Tarasenko is the type of player whose main contribution to any team he’s on is point production. A six-time 30-goal scorer, he knows how to put the puck in the back of the net on a consistent basis.
With the only top-six addition for the Rangers this offseason being Blake Wheeler (16g, 39a, 55p last season), New York will have to look within their already constructed offensive core to put up a large number of goals.
“Vladimir’s a natural goal scorer,” Senators general manager Pierre Dorion said in a statement. “He’s a dynamic player who can score from anywhere in the offensive zone, as well as an underrated playmaker who’s made a career out of driving offense for he and his linemates. An established performer in the regular season and in the playoffs, we’re thrilled to add a player of his caliber to our lineup.”The New York Post
The Rangers need a big season out of Chris Kreider
Chris Kreider is one of the key offensive players for the Rangers. After scoring an incredible 52 goals in 2021-22, he only put up 36 in 2022-23. This regression wasn’t fatal to the Blueshirts’ offense because of Tarasenko’s added contribution to the scoring sheet. But with Tarasenko departing, Kreider is going to have to step up once again and aim for another career season.
A potential Kaapo Kakko breakout campaign
Kaapo Kakko is another forward who needs to step up for the Rangers offensively this upcoming season. With Tarasenko gone (and most likely Kane too), there are a few vacancies on the right side of the Rangers’ lineup.
It’s all but confirmed that Kakko is going to be taking one of those spots, giving the young forward a chance to play top-six minutes. Last year, Kakko scored a career-high 40 points (18g, 22a). To fully make the most of the ice time he’ll be getting, Kakko should be aiming for at least 60-70 points this season to fill that gap.
The Rangers added plenty of veteran experience to their lines
One of Tarasenko’s most under appreciated contributions to the Rangers was his experience, especially during the playoffs. He helped lead the St. Louis Blues to a Stanley Cup back in 2019 and has played in the NHL since the 2012-2013 season. This veteran presence was crucial for the Blueshirts, with the team being filled with many young stars.
Luckily, this offseason’s free agency helped the Rangers bring in a handful of veteran forwards to boost their depth and experience. Nick Bonino, Tyler Pitlick, and Eric Gustaffson have all been signed to one-year deals by the Rangers. While these three veterans are not likely to fill the stat sheet on a nightly basis, they will bring plenty of experience and hockey IQ to the Rangers that should surpass that of Tarasenko.
The Rangers should not have too difficult of a time replacing Tarasenko’s production this season. He was a great addition to the team for the time he was there, but his contributions were not enough to make an impact in the 2023 playoffs. If returning stars continue to produce points and new additions play their roles, the Rangers should be able to put up similar numbers and replicate the production that Tarasenko is leaving behind.