The Stanley Cup has just been awarded and we’re already seeing off-season drama. The St. Louis Blues are the talk of the hockey universe as longtime forward Vladimir Tarasenko has requested a trade from the organization.
This comes after the Blues were eliminated in 4 games by the Colorado Avalanche in the postseason. Tarasenko was with the club when they won the Stanley Cup in 2019.
The 29-year-old winger from Russia was drafted in the first round (16th overall) by the Blues in 2010. Tarasenko would make his debut with the club as a 21-year-old, tallying 19 points in 8 games.
Tarasenko started making a name for himself in his third season, racking up 73 points in 77 games played. The 9-year-veteran has played 531 games with the Blues, securing 224 assists and 442 career points.
According to The Athletic, Tarasenko is upset with the team’s handling of his shoulder surgeries in 2018 and 2019, leading to a lack of trust within the organization. The winger went to a doctor not affiliated with the team for this third shoulder surgery to repair ligament damage that wasn’t found in his first two meetings with the Blues’ physicians.
The Russian winger has struggled with shoulder injuries in the past, limiting him to 10 games in 2020 and only 24 games last season.
He still has two more seasons left on his eight-year, $60-million contract which carries a $7.5-million cap hit. Tarasenko also has a full no-trade clause, which he would need to waive for the Blues to make a trade.
What the Blues are hoping to receive in exchange for Tarasenko is unknown, but one would think it would include at least a draft pick, prospect and NHL-ready player. Tarasenko’s injury history could also lower his trade value.
A $7.5-millon cap hit isn’t easily accounted for when making a trade. The Blues would likely need to take on additional salary from a potential suitor in order to make the trade work. St. Louis has also several players they need to sign in the off-season to make a run for the Stanley Cup once again.
Jaden Schwartz, Tyler Bozak and Mike Hoffman are all unrestricted free agents, while Ivan Barbashev, Zach Sanford, Jordan Kyrou and Robert Thomas are all restricted free agents. If the Blues were to lose Tarasenko, along with a combination of the aforementioned players, it would impact Stanley Cup odds immensely.
Either way, it will be a busy off-season for St. Louis’ front office. With pending UFAs and RFAs, as well as Tarasenko wanting out, this Blues team could be drastically different next season.
There are several free agents the Blues could target in the off-season as well, like David Krejci, Alex Ovechkin and Dougie Hamilton, just to name a few.
The Blues will be a team to watch this summer. With impending changes, St. Louis could have a different identity come puck drop next season.