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Vladimir Tarasenko’s fate is up in the air as the Blues enter the 2021 offseason
It was reported last week that the St. Louis Blues could look to trade Vladimir Tarasenko this offseason. THis was reported by Frank Seravelli.
A trade makes a lot of sense for the Blues and for Tarasenko. No longer a face of the franchise, Tarasenko has had multiple shoulder surgeries and is still finding his way back to being a productive scoring forward. During the 2020-21 season, he had 4 goals and 10 assists in 24 games played. He still has tremendous ability ad upside, but the jury is out whether he can resume his place as a premier scoring forward in the NHL.
Four teams are said to be on the list Tarasenko provided to the Blues for which he would waive his no-trade clause: Las Vegas Golden Knights, Boston Bruins, Carolina Hurricanes, and the New York Islanders. Let’s look at what a deal could look like, with each destination.
The Golden Knights
In any deal, the Blues would probably need to take back some salary, to help offset Tarasenko’s $7 million per year. The Blues need to upgrade their scoring, particularly the LW slot on the top two lines. A player that fits that profile is Alex Tuch or Reilly Smith. Both are owed around $5 million next season. Smith is under contract just one more year, while Tuch has 5 more seasons under contract. Smith in particular, I think, would fit very well in the Berube “heavy hockey” system.
To me, Nino Neiterreiter stands out as a likely target by the Blues. He has one more year on his contract, at $5.25 million. He plays wing on a scoring line, and scored 20 goals in the 2020-21 season. He doesn’t have the upside of Tarasenko, and with one less contract year. So Tarasenko would be an offensive upgrade for the ‘Canes.
Jake DeBrusk I think the Blues would be extremely interested in. He’s a solid two-way player that can skate anywhere in the top 9. Although scoring only 5 goals in 41 games, he did have 46 goals in the 18/19 and 19/20 seasons. He has one more year on his current contract, at just over $3.5 million. The Blues could also ask for a 2nd round pick in the package.
Brock Nelson is the name the Blues should ask for in return for Tarasenko. He’s the 2nd line center for the Islanders, and is strong offensively and defensively. I had though Jordan Eberle could be a target, but his two-way game isn’t as strong. Nelson is owed $6 million per season over the next 4 years. He could slot in on the 1st or 2nd line LW for the Blues.
Now, the Eyes on Isles blog speculates here that a Tarasenko trade would be largely draft pick-based. Take it for what its worth.
The bottom line for the Blues is they need to upgrade their scoring, preferably on the left wing. They don’t know what Tarasenko will be next year and beyond. They have a lot of salary coming off the books, but a portion of that will be eaten up again by re-signing RFAs and some UFAs. Tarasenko is owed $7.5 million next year and the year after that. Trading him represents an opportunity to A) give him a change of scenery, B) clear salary space, and C) potentially acquire offensive help. I think the Blues will accomplish at least 2 of those things.