Rangers’ trade for Vladimir Tarasenko prompts lineup tweaks – NewsAlarts
The addition of Vladimir Tarasenko has had a ripple effect throughout the Rangers’ forward group, as well as the power-play units.
Gerard Gallant made some obvious alterations to the lines, such as plugging Tarasenko onto the top line alongside Artemi Panarin, his fellow countryman, and Mika Zibanejad, but the head coach also made some rare adjustments to the Rangers’ two man-advantage units ahead of their 6-3 win over the Kraken on Friday night at Madison Square Garden.
The first power-play unit underwent changes (not due to injury) to its four-righty formation for the first time since Nov. 27, 2019. Former Rangers defenseman Tony DeAngelo, now with the Flyers, was at the point at that time, before Adam Fox replaced him the following season.
Filip Chytil stood in for Vincent Trocheck in the bumper spot with Panarin, Zibanejad, Fox and Chris Kreider to make up the top unit. Trocheck is now on the second unit along with Kaapo Kakko, Alexis Lafreniere, Jacob Trouba and Tarasenko. Both groups contributed a goal in the win, one from Trouba and another from Zibanejad, and showed some promising signs of chemistry.
“Yeah I think [Tarasenko] deserves to be on one of the two,” Gallant said with a smile before the game. “We’ve obviously talked about that before we even did the trade. There’s two pretty good units out there. We talk about being a team and paying together as a team, and I think that’ll give the other guys more of an opportunity. It won’t be one unit for a minute and 45 seconds.
“We’ll give it a test run and see how it goes. We can change things in a second. We just put that together and we’ll have a look at it and see if that’s the best solution for us.”
Additionally, the shiny new weapons in the lineup prompted Gallant to insert Vitali Kravtsov back into the top six to see what the Rangers would look like with all their skill guys suited up.
“I want him to put the puck in the net, work hard,” Gallant said of Kravtsov, who had been a healthy scratch in the previous four games. “He showed some good spurts of that at times, but it wasn’t enough. There’s an opportunity for him to play up there and we’ll see what he does. So take advantage of it.”
Kravtsov lined up next to Trocheck and Kreider, which is the first time the 23-year-old wing has skated in that combination. After the top two lines, the Rangers have the Kid Line of Lafreniere, Chytil and Kakko, as well as the fourth line of Jimmy Vesey, Barclay Goodrow and Julien Gauthier.
Jake Leschyshyn, who competed in the previous eight games, was a healthy scratch Friday night, along with defenseman Ben Harpur, who was replaced by new blueliner Niko Mikkola next to Braden Schneider on the third pair.
The Blackhawks’ Patrick Kane, to whom the Rangers have been linked for years, fielded questions about the Tarasenko trade.
“It’s not like the happiest I’ve been to hear about a trade,” he told reporters Friday. “I think the Rangers are a team that you definitely pay attention to and definitely are intrigued by, for obvious reasons.
“If things were going to happen, that was a team I was definitely looking at. It seems like they kind of filled their void and went ahead and made a deal, so it is what it is.”
Igor Shesterkin earned his 38th starting nod of the season amid a back-to-back schedule, Friday at the Garden and Saturday at Carolina. Jaroslav Halak will presumably play against the Hurricanes.
Libor Hajek cleared waivers and was assigned to AHL Hartford.