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Could the Bruins Buy Low on Tarasenko?

(Photo by Bruce Bennett / Getty Images)

By Spencer Lindsay | Follow me on Twitter @dispencer88

Rumors circulated yesterday that the St. Louis Blues were looking at trade options for star right-winger Vladimir Tarasenko. The three-time All-Star looks to be on the outs in a St. Louis team that is likely looking at a restructure, following their first-round sweep at the hands of the Colorado Avalanche.

A few years ago, this would have been earth-shattering news, given the star quality that Tarasenko possesses. Now, however? Tarasenko is coming off of multiple injury-filled seasons, with his shoulder being the consistent ailment. The question is, is this a good buy-low opportunity for the Bruins, or something they should stay away from?

The Player

For those who may be new to hockey or those who don’t follow it closely, you may not have heard much about Tarasenko recently, given his injury-riddled last few seasons. For many of us, though, his name is still one that carries a certain aura of a star player. Drafted in the first round of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, he quickly established himself as a top scorer for the Blues.

His best seasons came from 2014-2019, where he played 70+ games and scored 30+ goals in each of those seasons, having once hit the 40 goal mark. He also had 30+ assists in all of those seasons as well, despite his reputation as a pure sniper. Tarasenko is also a decently sized forward at six feet tall and 225 pounds, not someone who can be pushed around easily on the ice.

The Cost

Looking at this from a purely hypothetical standpoint, what might be the cost to acquire Tarasenko? For a player who hasn’t played much for two years due to a nagging injury in his shoulder, it can be tough to pinpoint exactly what that package would look like. However, I don’t know if it’s too far-fetched an idea to compare the Taylor Hall trade package the Bruins sent Buffalo and what might be needed to acquire Tarasenko.

Looking at the two players, Hall was coming off of a terrible year, Tarasenko is coming off a terrible two years. Hall has MVP and first overall pick pedigree, Tarasenko has first-round pick pedigree and multiple high scoring seasons. The real kicker is that much like Taylor Hall was able to dictate where he wanted to go due to a no-move clause in his contract, Tarasenko has a no-trade clause. Could a similar package get the deal done?

The Fit

Another thing to consider is whether or not there is a fit with Tarasenko and the Bruins. From a monetary standpoint, fitting Tarasenko in should be no problem. The Bruins have an estimated 30 million dollars in cap space, though a decent portion of that will likely be used to bring back David Krejci, Taylor Hall, and Tuukka Rask, albeit likely at lower cap hits than before. Tarasenko’s cap hit is currently at $7.5 million per season until 2023-24.

But is there a fit on the team? Assuming Krejci and Hall re-sign, the second line likely stays Hall-Krejci-Smith due to the chemistry those three had down the stretch. The first line is even more locked in than that second line, so that would put Tarasenko on the third line. I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing, though.

Yes $7.5 million for a third-line winger isn’t fantastic cap-wise, but if you look at the teams who went further in the playoffs, it all comes down to depth scoring. Having a third line with DeBrusk/Ritchie-Coyle-Tarasenko would be an embarrassment of riches on paper, assuming Tarasenko is able to regain his form. And therein lies the key to this whole thing, can he regain his form?

The Verdict

Unlike the Taylor Hall trade, which was a low risk/high reward, I have to think that this trade is a higher risk/high reward move. First of all, no offense to the Buffalo Sabres, but they had a first-year GM who I believe Don Sweeney got the better of in the Taylor Hall trade. Doug Armstrong has been the GM of the Blues since 2010 and has pulled off some great trades and won a Stanley Cup. He will not be so easily taken advantage of, so I believe the cost to acquire Tarasenko in the first place would be higher.

The other risky part of a potential trade again comes in the health of Tarasenko. If he does regain his form, you now have arguably some of the best depth in the NHL, with a 29-year-old winger who has hit the 20 goal mark in six of his nine NHL seasons. If he doesn’t regain his form, you’re now looking at $7.5 million in dead salary cap space, which for a team trying to win a Stanley Cup, really cannot happen.

There is significant risk in this potential move, but if it were to pay off, I believe the Bruins would be in a much better position to win a cup than they were this past season. It will be interesting to see if Don Sweeney takes a shot at acquiring Tarasenko or if he stays away. Stay tuned, Bruins fans; I have a feeling July is going to be very interesting.

1 Comment

  1. Dan

    I would trade DeBrusk for him in a heart beat

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