Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko has officially requested a trade out of St. Louis, as reported by Jeremy Rutherford in The Athletic. GM Doug Armstrong is reportedly already working to facilitate the deal, and it’s expected to happen before the start of the 2021-22 season.
According to The Athletic, the main reason Tarasenko wants out of St. Louis is because his trust with the organization has eroded after what his camp believes was a mishandling of his recent shoulder injuries and three separate surgeries. Tarasenko has played only 34 games over the past two seasons, mainly due to his shoulder issues.
Prior to that, Tarasenko had ripped off five straight seasons of at least 33 goals and 68 points as the Blues’ most consistent scoring threat. He scored 11 goals in 17 playoff games in St. Louis’ Stanley Cup run in 2019.
But even teams who want Tarasenko would likely look at his current situation, and see a significantly depreciated asset. Tarasenko has two years remaining on his contract at a cap hit of $7.5 million, and his salary for 2021-22 tops that at $9.5 million. He turns 30 years old on Dec. 13 and will have had the aforementioned three shoulder surgeries.
The Bruins, however, are in a unique position of being a 2021 playoff team that also ranks in the top-10 in cap space at more than $30 million (per Spotrac). The Colorado Avalanche and Carolina Hurricanes are the other two teams that can make that claim. So if Tarasenko prefers to go to a contending team, then the Bruins, Avs, and ‘Canes would be the most doable financially. The trade likely won’t cost much in terms of draft capital or prospects, when you factor in Tarasenko’s situation.
But like Colorado and Carolina, the Bruins also have internal decisions to make with their cap space. If Bruins GM Don Sweeney intends to retain Taylor Hall, David Krejci, and Tuukka Rask, that will eat into a large chunk. Also, 2020 free-agent addition Craig Smith has proven to be a strong fit at the No. 2 right wing spot alongside Krejci and Hall, which is where Tarasenko would slot in if he became a Bruin.
The chemistry may not be the same with Tarasenko on the second line, but the talent level would be a clear upgrade, even if Tarasenko is a step below what he was in his prime years in St. Louis. The shoulder should be a legitimate concern, considering that Tarasenko’s shot and puckhandling are his calling cards. That could cost him on his next long-term contract.
But the Bruins have been looking for dynamic talent to fill out their second line for years, and they don’t seem ready to close the Stanley Cup window on their current core. They’ve found one great fit in Hall. If Tarasenko doesn’t require a big haul going to St. Louis, he may be a proven talent who’s worth the gamble.
Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff and follow him on Instagram @mattydsays. You can also email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.