The former Blues star had requested a trade roughly about a month ago, but at this time, he is still a St. Louis Blue. There are a lot of question circling around the Blues fan base, but it’s hard to sum it up into just one thing. As just about everyone knows, Tarasenko has been battling injuries for the last couple years which has depleted his value tremendously. He has battled three shoulder surgeries that has really de-railed his career from stardom to a decent second line wing.
Come the start of the offseason, the Blues were exploring trade possibilities however, it’s a different story when the player demands to be traded. After The Athletics, Jeremy Rutherford did some digging, he reported that Tarasenko’s reasoning behind requesting a trade was plain and simple: He was unhappy with the medical care he received from the Blues staff. However, looking at where he is coming from, it’s hard not to say he’s completely in the right.
After re-injuring his shoulder, he was sent to see the Blues doctors to diagnose to problem in which he opted to have surgery. Prior to re-injuring his shoulder, and before rejoining the team in the Edmonton bubble, he complained about discomfort in his shoulder. He believed that they had waited to long to do anything about the injury which resulted in him having to get yet another surgery. When he found out about having to get yet another shoulder surgery, and his unpleasantness with how the medical staff treated him, he decided to get it done with the doctors at Stedman.
Going into this season, he felt there was no trust left between him and the organization which resulted in even more problems. Given his performance during the regular season, he was then given the role of playing the net on the power play which didn’t sit well with him. Although, that reason was a factor in him requesting a trade, he also was not happy when he was not given the captain badge to start the season. Given everything he’d given to the organization, he was not happy that he didn’t receive the captain badge which in other terms, “sunk the boat”.
What is taking so long?
When it comes to trading away a player like Tarasenko there is going to be a lot of arguments within the trade talks. Tarasenko is a former star, and despite the injuries, he still has the ability to be that player. With that being said, he hasn’t proven in two years that he can stay healthy and be the same player that he once was. So do you trade him on the value of his past, and his name? Do you trade him to his most recent performance? Or do you trade him on what he can do should he get healthy? That’s where the problem lays.
Tarasenko came into the league and immediately made an impact on the Blues organization. The Blues had been looking to find a player who could produce the same way that Brett Hull did in the 1990s, but there was no luck until Tarasenko came around. Although Tarasenko didn’t put up the same number of points that Hull did, he was the first player since Hull that could put up 40 goal seasons. It was that talent and ability that ended up transpiring and inspiring so many fans in St. Louis. He was a leader to the Blues locker room, and if he felt that his injuries should’ve received more attention, then that’s the case. However, the bridge is burned and it’s time to move on.
Looking at where trade talks could go from here in their current state, it’s unclear. Once again it’s been conflicting in the Blues front office as they want to ensure they get value back for him, but his name isn’t on the same pedestal that it use to be. Jeremy Rutherford released an article that stated that one of the hold up’s was in fact the asking price however, there is still a lot of problems that shouldn’t be dismissed.
Tarasenko was left unprotected in the expansion draft, and when he wasn’t selected, many teams felt that was a sign that he shouldn’t even be worth their time at all. The thought that they can go out and sign a player in free agency that is going to cost them a lot less and no assets seems like the direction most teams went. There is supposedly a couple teams that are still interested, but after the expansion draft, most of the teams that were previously interested are no longer.
Did their Plan Backfire?
The Blues are currently in a situation that, if what I heard was right, backfired on them. Armstrong has his back against the wall and is trying to find his way out with no escape. It seemed given all the rumors and talk amongst people that are connected that they were looking to wait out the free agents in hope of raising Tarasenko’s draft stock, that is not the case.
Tarasenko, as I stated above, has had a rough road throughout the past couple seasons that he hasn’t quite bounced back from. However, I believe that Armstrong was waiting out the top free agents in order to take advantage of the Tarasenko name. After Ovechkin re-signed, Schwartz signed, Landeskog signed, there were not many names out there that were better than Tarasenko, and Armstrong was planning on capitalizing on that fact. However, after most of the free agents have gone off the board, it’s been coming to the attention of people that it had the opposite affect. With the asking price of Tarasenko being too high, teams went all in on the first day of free agency to replace the holes on their team.
There are still a couple names available including one of the top names in free agency, Brandon Saad. Saad was one of the names I was hoping at the start of free agency the Blues would target, but after doing some digging prior to this article, the Blues weren’t even interested in the winger it appears as they made no contact with him. The St. Louis Blues had the ability to re-sign Mike Hoffman, and Jaden Schwartz to help fill out the wing depth, but they didn’t. On top of not re-signing anyone from the Blues that could make an impact, they didn’t even go after anyone valuable today. However, one thing came clear thanks to free agency and that is: What team is most likely to land Tarasenko?
Could the Islanders land Tarasenko?
There were a lot of signings made yesterday that sent a lot of very good players to better opportunities. However, there were only two teams that didn’t make any form of a transaction yesterday: The St. Louis Blues and the New York Islanders.
This past season was a odd to say the least given what had happened the year before. The NHL was put into the bubble due to COVID restrictions which resulted in players having to bounce back quicker than normal. Hockey is an very physical sports that leads to a lot of injuries already, so having only a couple months to bounce back from those injuries was going to be difficult. Regardless of circumstance, there were a few teams that were able to shine this past season, like the New York Islanders.
The Islanders came so close to being in the Stanley Cup but fell short in Game seven against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Islanders, being as close as they were, were going to be going all in on adding a couple elite players to help get their team to the Stanley Cup this next season, and it appears that they think Tarasenko could be the key. Despite the tendency to get hurt, in game four against the Avalanche, Tarasenko was by far and away the best player on the ice for the Blues. It was also reported by a person close to Tarasenko that he was playing while still recovering. However, it was also reported that he feels that Tarasenko’s shoulder has never been stronger and he said that he is 100%.
Being able to obtain Tarasenko and have him with Mathew Barzal, and Anders Lee could be a very scary and dangerous line. However, looking at some mock trades, Doug Armstrong will have to determine if he believes this team can win a Stanley Cup or if it’s time to start a re-build in hopes of competing again after 4-5 years. Matt O’Leary of the Eyes on Isles wrote up a mock draft in which it would send Tarasenko to the Islanders and in return the Blues would receive a 2022 first-round pick, 2022 second-round pick, and RHD prospect, Bode Wilde. If the Blues believe in their young players enough to give them a chance, and in the meantime word on developing a good prospect pool, they could find themselves back to competing again in the matter of only a couple years.