There has been an expectation over the past few months that the Blues and Vladimir Tarasenko would be parting ways. First came the news that he was being shopped which was followed up by Tarasenko’s trade request going public. The first opportunity came and went with expansion; although St. Louis left the winger unprotected, Seattle instead opted for RFA defenseman Vince Dunn. Then came the draft and the opening of free agency and still the veteran remains with the Blues.
Accordingly, GM Doug Armstrong told reporters including Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he is changing his focus towards dealing with his restricted free agents and “as of now I don’t see anything changing for a while” when it comes to his roster which suggests there is no viable trade option on the horizon for Tarasenko.
There are a trio of restricted free agents to deal with in forwards Zach Sanford, Jordan Kyrou, and Robert Thomas. The Blues have a little over $6MM in cap room, per CapFriendly, which means they should be able to get those three locked up but they won’t have anything left to spend after that. That means that the delay in finding a Tarasenko trade is basically holding up the rest of their offseason planning.
Thomas notes that Tarasenko has expanded his list of teams he’s willing to go to and at this point, he’s willing to go pretty much anywhere to get the change of scenery he so desires. In terms of potential suitors, David Pagnotta of The Fourth Period suggested in a recent appearance on the NHL Network (video link) that the Islanders, Rangers, and Devils are in the mix but others that had interest such as the Flyers have since dropped out. Of those three, New Jersey has the cleanest cap situation to make a move for Tarasenko without needing any sort of salary offset.
Tarasenko’s trade value is certainly at the lowest it has been in a while as the 29-year-old underachieved after coming back from yet another shoulder surgery (his third in two years), notching just four goals in 24 games last season and didn’t make much of an impact at the World Championships after joining Russia late in the tournament. With a $7.5MM cap hit for two more years and a $9.5MM salary, it’s a hefty price tag to take on and considering how he performed after coming back, it’s understandable that there is some hesitance to give up a return of significance.
While there is no firm timeline to necessarily get something done, the more that teams spend either on the open market or re-signing their own players makes it harder to get a Tarasenko trade done as cap space dries up so from that standpoint, the sooner a move gets done, the better. The old adage is that it only takes one phone call to get something going on the trade front. Armstrong is certainly hoping that call is coming soon.