The Blues’ star forward has reportedly asked for a trade.
As the final game of the Stanley Cup Final was playing out in Tampa, big news came out of St. Louis.
Blues superstar forward Vladimir Tarasenko has asked for a trade, and St. Louis is actively looking to facilitate a deal. The Athletic was first to report the demand.
Tarasenko, 29, has two years remaining on an eight-year, $60 million contract ($7.5 million annual average value); a full no-trade clause kicked in two years ago.
According to the report from The Athletic, Tarasenko “is upset with the team’s handling of his shoulder surgeries in 2018 and 2019 — his first two of three such surgeries, which were both performed by Blues physicians — and feels there’s no trust left between him and the organization.”
This past summer, Tarasenko changed agents. He is now represented by Paul Theofanous, who also serves as agent for Rangers’ forward Artemi Panarin.
The Rangers were mentioned among the potential destinations for Tarasenko. The two obvious reasons: his close relationship with Panarin and Theofanous having worked with the Rangers previously with Panarin.
But would the Rangers actually be interested in making a deal?
Now that Tarasenko’s demand is public — and with the player having a full no-trade clause — the Blues have little leverage. So the cost to get a potentially elite offensive player could be more reasonable than, say, Jack Eichel.
According to CapFriendly, the Rangers have almost $24 million in cap space heading into the offseason.
However, the Rangers have to come to terms with a number of key restricted free agents including Filip Chytil.
The Rangers also need to think about their long-term future. The more significant season on Tarasenko’s contract is the final one; the Rangers have significant players potentially hitting free agency after the 2021-22 season.
Adam Fox, Kaapo Kakko, Alexandar Georgiev and Vitali Kravtsov are restricted free agents in 12 months. Fox, especially, is going to be a critical contract to get done; he just won the Norris Trophy and is the team’s (league’s) best defenseman.
The other issue the Rangers need to be wary of is Tarasenko’s injury history if they’re going to pursue him.
Tarasenko had three surgeries performed on his should in a 28-month window. The ligament damage from the first injury was not corrected in either of the first two operations, which were performed by Blues’ team physicians. The failure of those procedures are at the heart of Tarasenko wanting out of St. Louis.
Given the Rangers’ financial considerations in the coming two offseasons, New York would need the Blues to either retain significant salary (not out of the question) or move a relatively bad contract back to St. Louis in the deal.
The problem: the Rangers don’t have what you might consider a “bad” contract to send back. Indeed, they only have seven NHL roster players under contract for the 2022-23 season at this time.
So should the Rangers make a deal?
They should at least inquire because of the potential Tarasenko brings to the table. But they shouldn’t push the issue. They have more important concerns internally than adding an injured star nearing his 30th birthday.
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