September 18: Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that general manager Doug Armstrong expects Tarasenko to be a member of the team when the puck drops on the NHL regular season. Trade options will continue to be explored to honor Tarasenko’s original request, but he’ll be expected to be a contributing member of the squad for now.
September 8: The St. Louis Blues are still one of the most interesting teams to watch this offseason. Despite a public trade request and a hot stove that was on fire earlier this summer, Vladimir Tarasenko still hasn’t been dealt. Training camp opens in just a few weeks and members of the team, including head coach Craig Berube, are now starting to have to explain how they’ll treat him like any other player should the season open with him on the roster. This isn’t how it was expected to go, but a trade involving the oft-injured sniper was always going to be difficult.
One of the biggest hurdles in any transaction is Tarasenko’s contract, which carries a cap hit of $7.5MM this season and next. It also includes a full no-trade clause, and though the 29-year-old winger is obviously willing to waive that for the right situation, contending teams would be hard-pressed to find enough cap space to fit him in. That’s where a middle man comes in, as reports had previously surfaced about teams–including the Seattle Kraken, up to the expansion draft–that would be willing to retain some of the salary as a go-between for a Tarasenko trade. We saw plenty of transactions like that at the deadline this season as teams struggled to deal with the flat salary cap.
At least one team is still willing to do just that for the Blues and whoever is interested in Tarasenko, according to Andy Strickland of Bally Sports Midwest. He believes that a third team would be involved if a Tarasenko deal does eventually happen, though gives no indication of which teams would be involved.
There are already 15 teams that have at least $80MM committed to this season, and though some of them will have more flexibility than that implies thanks to long-term injured reserve, none of them really could add Tarasenko at his full $7.5MM cap hit without moving out some other salary. Without a third team taking on some of the cap hit, that doesn’t leave a huge market for a player that has played just 34 games over the last two seasons.
At this point, Tarasenko is a member of the Blues, and unless something changes in the next few weeks, it will be on him to report to camp and prepare for a tenth season in St. Louis.