Vladimir Tarasenko has had a very impressive 11-year career since being selected with the No. 16 overall pick in the 2010 NHL Draft: he’s registered 553 career points, earned two All-Star appearances, and helped lead the St. Louis Blues to their first ever Stanley Cup in 2019.
But his goals don’t end there. The 31-year-old is determined to hoist the Cup at least one more time.
After failing to reach a contract extension with the Blues, Tarasenko was traded on Thursday to the Rangers along with defenseman Niko Mikkola in exchange for Sammy Blais, Hunter Skinner, a conditional first-round draft pick in 2023, and a conditional fourth-round pick in 2024. The winger spoke to media for the first time as a Ranger on Friday after practice and made it clear that he wanted to be in New York for the chance to bring home their first championship since the 1993-1994 season.
“I’m happy to join the New York Rangers, see some friends of mine,” Tarasenko said. “The group of guys seems very nice, they gave me a warm welcome. I feel very, very good.”
He added: “There was no chance I was staying in St. Louis. No deal was offered, so I knew I was going to be moved somewhere. I talked with Artemi [Panarin] and they want me here. I want to be here, too. It’s a big team, one of my best friends plays here, and it’s a chance to win a Cup again. It’s our motivation.”
Tarasenko went on to speak about his friendship with Panarin, as the two have been close for over a decade. He even expressed his excitement to play on the same line as Panarin and Mika Zibanejad and believes they can “make it work” on the ice.
“We met before World Juniors, 2011 I think, and stayed in touch since then,” Tarasenko said. “He played in Chicago, we talked a little bit more, and talked in the All-Star Game a lot. He’s a very good guy and I can say we’ve known each other for like more than 10 years.”
Tarasenko is in the final year of an eight-year, $60 million deal, and set to become an unrestricted free agent after the season. While his future with the Rangers beyond this season remains up in the air, there’s not doubt that winning a Stanley Cup would influence his decision to stay in New York long-term.
“First of all, the building [Madison Square Garden], it’s always exciting to play there,” Tarasenko said. “It’s a good team, obviously, and like I said before, they have a goal here to win a Cup which is very exciting.”