5 NHL Teams That Should Trade for Blues Winger Vladimir Tarasenko

Joe YerdonNovember 14, 2022

5 NHL Teams That Should Trade for Blues Winger Vladimir Tarasenko

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    ST. LOUIS, MO - OCTOBER 15: Vladimir Tarasenko #91 of the St. Louis Blues reacts after scoring a goal against the Columbus Blue Jackets at the Enterprise Center on October 15, 2022 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Joe Puetz/NHLI via Getty Images)
    Joe Puetz/NHLI via Getty Images

    The St. Louis Blues have had a roller-coaster season already and they’re just 13 games into their campaign. They’ve won two in a row and got out of the gate winning three straight, but in between they lost eight consecutive games in regulation.

    The latest wins aren’t enough to get the spotlight off them, however, because no one just forgets about losing eight in a row. They’re last in the NHL in goals scored (31) and therefore goals scored per game (2.38). They also have the fourth-worst goals allowed per-game rate with 3.69 and the fourth-worst penalty kill.

    It’s been brutal for the Blues, and when things get that bad it generally means changes get made and no one is safe. Well, Blues general manager Doug Armstrong is safe, and he’s made it clear coach Craig Berube isn’t going anywhere.

    So how do you fix a team that has clear issues scoring goals as well as preventing them? Obviously, you make the rashest decision possible and really shake things up. In this case, it means we’re trading Vladimir Tarasenko.

    Tarasenko is 30 years old and in the final year of his eight-year, $60 million contract he signed in 2015. Anyone on an expiring contract becomes instantly more attractive to acquire, and it wasn’t too long ago when Tarasenko and the Blues were in a rocky relationship in which the Russian star wanted a trade. He’s been solid so far this season (he’s third on the Blues in scoring), but don’t let that distract you: We’re scouting five potential new homes for him.

    We know that basically every team is at, above or disturbingly close to the salary cap, and Tarasenko's $7.5 million cap hit is difficult to move. Just assume that any package for him would involve a prospect or two, a veteran player with a cap hit enough to help balance it and/or the Blues taking on some of the money to facilitate a deal. Teams with enough cap space to make a trade easier aren't ones that would be in a position to make a deal like this.

New York Islanders

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    ELMONT, NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 12: Scott Mayfield #24 of the New York Islanders celebrates his third period goal with Sebastian Aho #25 against the Columbus Blue Jackets at UBS Arena on November 12, 2022 in Elmont, New York. (Photo by Dennis DaSilva/NHLI via Getty Images)
    Dennis DaSilva/NHLI via Getty Images

    If it seems like we're always suggesting the Islanders should make a move to bolster their offense, it's because we are.

    We've shaken our heads enough about how GM Lou Lamoriello did next to nothing to improve the Islanders lineup over the summer. The beauty of the NHL is that the opportunity to do something about that almost never ends.

    So far this season, goals haven't been an issue for Lane Lambert's team, and they're off to a good start. They have the goaltending, and they play a strong defensive style. That's a good recipe for success and potential playoff success. What's one thing the Islanders don't have? A super weapon on offense.

    Adding Vladimir Tarasenko to the Isles' forward group would give them another threat to score goals outside of Brock Nelson and Anders Lee. Think about it: When teams get to the playoffs, goals get a little harder to score, and gaining an edge in any way to provide more punch is necessary.

    The Islanders' approach to scoring has been by committee, which is great and good for the playoffs. Teams need threats throughout the lineup. But the Islanders don't have an ace up their sleeve. Even the most team-centric attack could use a nuclear option, and Tarasenko would certainly qualify as one.

Winnipeg Jets

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    CALGARY, ALBERTA - NOVEMBER 12: Sam Gagner #89, Blake Wheeler #26 and teammates of the Winnipeg Jets celebrate a goal against the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome on November 12, 2022 in Calgary, Alberta. (Photo by Gerry Thomas/NHLI via Getty Images)
    Gerry Thomas/NHLI via Getty Images

    It's understandable that if the Blues were to move Tarasenko that trading him to a team in the Western Conference would be unlikely. Trading a franchise star to a team not just in the West but also within the division is most likely a non-starter. But in this dream-world scenario, anything can happen.

    Winnipeg has found itself a bit higher in the standings than maybe many assumed it might be, and with that comes higher expectations. The Jets have gotten tremendous goaltending from Connor Hellebuyck once again, and he's the key reason they're in a battle with Colorado and Dallas atop the Central Division. They do have a weakness, however, and it's their offense.

    The Jets are in the bottom 10 in goals scored, and their power play is also in the lower third. Fortunately for Winnipeg, Tarasenko has a long history of scoring goals and scoring them on the power play. Even better for the Jets, they have a few other offensive weapons who would benefit from Tarasenko's presence.

    Winnipeg's top-six forwards are pretty good at scoring, particularly Mark Scheifele and Kyle Connor, but Blake Wheeler is 36, and Cole Perfetti is getting his real first full action this season. Winnipeg's bottom-six forwards are also not exactly filled with household names. Adding Tarasenko would improve the Jets' attack and ideally give them a bit more depth at forward to try to keep up with their divisional foes.

Washington Capitals

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    WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 7: Dylan Strome #17 of the Washington Capitals celebrates a goal with Marcus Johansson #90, Martin Fehervary #4 and Sonny Milano #15 during a game against the Edmonton Oilers at Capital One Arena on November 7, 2022 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by John McCreary/NHLI via Getty Images)
    John McCreary/NHLI via Getty Images

    It's not a rule that any Russian players should wind up in Washington to play alongside Alex Ovechkin (hello, Ilya Kovalchuk and Sergei Fedorov), but it seems like it happens with enough regularity that it makes sense. Why not add another one to the list?

    The Capitals lineup has been a bit hamstrung by injuries to start the season. With Nicklas Bäckström, T.J. Oshie, Tom Wilson and others missing time, they could use a little help.

    Washington is firmly in the middle of the NHL in goals scored. Ovechkin has eight of the Capitals' 46 goals, and they have three scorers in double figures in points with Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Dylan Strome. While Ovechkin is and always has been their one true goal scorer, their lineup is lacking a true second option.

    Yes, Anthony Mantha and Marcus Johansson have helped out a ton, but Tarasenko is closer in class to Ovechkin than anyone else in the Capitals lineup. Tarasenko's hard and accurate shot would give them another weapon on the power play and someone for opposing defenses to worry about on another line. Making opponents stress out about trying to keep both of them quiet would make the Capitals a much more dangerous team, and even more so once they're able to get players back from the injured list.

New York Rangers

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    DETROIT, MI - NOVEMBER 10: Alexis Lafrenière #13 and Filip Chytil #72 of the New York Rangers congratulate teammate Adam Fox #23 after he scores a goal during the third period of an NHL game against the Detroit Red Wings at Little Caesars Arena on November 10, 2022 in Detroit, Michigan. New York defeated Detroit 8-2. (Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images)
    Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images

    The Rangers have dynamic pieces on offense with Artemi Panarin, Mika Zibanejad, Chris Kreider and Adam Fox. What they lack is serious offensive depth at forward.

    The Blueshirts are top-heavy. The guys I mentioned have been incredible, but beyond them it’s been Vincent Trocheck, who’s gotten ahead in double figures with 11 points, and then a lot of supporting cast with seven or fewer.

    Yes, there’s Kaapo Kakko and Alexis Lafrenière and Filip Chytil, and they’re all young and have promise and will surely, eventually, break out someday. It might even happen this season! But Tarasenko is an established goal scorer, a known quantity and a Stanley Cup winner, and the Rangers can win the Stanley Cup…but they’re going to need a little more help to make it happen.

    Sure, they could add to their defense and make the blue line a bit stouter, but also, they could score a bunch more goals and win handily while also having an elite goaltender to keep other teams off the board.

    The Rangers need to have the playoffs in mind with fortifying their lineup, and that means counting on offense being reduced as the postseason rolls on. It also means needing steady scoring beyond the top line, and Tarasenko would provide just that.

Detroit Red Wings

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    DETROIT, MI - NOVEMBER 10: Detroit Red Wings left wing Lucas Raymond (23) celebrates his second period goal with the bench during the game between the Detroit Red Wings and the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday November 10, 2022 at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, MI. (Photo by Steven King/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
    Steven King/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    During the offseason, the Red Wings made it a point to add to the team and show they were ready to take a big step toward returning to the postseason. They added Andrew Copp and David Perron to go with Dylan Larkin and the rest of their young core.

    While those additions were good and helped address some areas of need, goals haven’t exactly been pouring in despite a strong start.

    Larkin and Dominik Kubalik have carried the load on offense, and they haven’t been helped by Tyler Bertuzzi’s injury that’s held him to two games this season. Perron has been good, and Lucas Raymond is a strong goal-scoring threat, but they don’t have an alpha weapon, an all-around goal-scoring menace, and that’s where Tarasenko would make a great fit.

    Would it be a bold step that goes against what GM Steve Yzerman has done throughout his executive career? Yes. Would it possibly be too big of a leap for a team that’s taken a slower approach to building its organization? Maybe. But would it add a feature to the Detroit lineup it severely lacks? Absolutely.

    Although the thought of trading a franchise stud like Tarasenko to Detroit might make fans in St. Louis throw their toasted ravioli at the wall, Detroit does have a lot of pieces (prospects, picks) it would take to make a deal like that palatable.

    Statistics and other numbers from: NHL.com, Hockey Reference, CapFriendly

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