By: Kevin O’Keefe | Follow me on Twitter @Kevin_OKeefe89
With the Vladimir Tarasenko rumor mill heating up, many Bruins fans are wondering what it could take to land the once elite winger in a trade. According to Jeremy Rutherford of The Athletic, he believes Tarasenko could be had for this year’s first-round pick and forward Trent Frederic. “The Blues would make this deal yesterday. The Bruins’ first-round pick is No. 20, and with the Blues already possessing the No. 16 pick, Armstrong would have two of the top 20 selections in the draft.” Rutherford says. Would this be a smart move for Boston to make?
The 6-foot, 225-pound right-winger was a lock for 30 goals and 70 points as recently as the 2018-2019 season. He is exactly the type of forward the Bruins would want to round out their top-6. A line of Hall-Krejci-Tarasenko would allow Craig Smith to drop down to the third line with center Charlie Coyle. The move also would allow you to hold on to Jake Debrusk.
Bruins general manager, Don Sweeney, could then use him in a trade for the much-needed top-4 left-shot defenseman or decide to hold on to him in hopes of a resurgence of the young winger. This would give you a third-line of Debrusk-Coyle-Smith; on paper, this would be the answer to the Bruins bottom-6 scoring troubles but would be dependent on Debrusk returning to his previous 20-goal form.
There are also risks involved in this deal. Tarasenko, over the past two seasons, has only played 34 games due to injuries. Three shoulder injuries aren’t something to be overlooked, especially in the time frame they have all occurred. Even if Tarasenko is fully recovered, the thought of losing the player to another shoulder injury should be a concern for any general manager seeking to acquire his services. With that knowledge, while I’m sure the Blues would like to unload his entire $7.5 million cap hit, the likely hood of that happening is close to zero. The Blues would be on the hook for retained salary over the last two years of his contract in any deal involving the Russian-winger.
At the end of the day, the Bruins should say no to this deal. The risks involved in this deal are not worth the first-round pick. Boston’s prospect pool is drying up, and sending another first-round pick out the door for an injury-prone winger approaching 30-years-old should be out of the question. This upcoming entry-draft will be an interesting one, with the bruins having the 20th overall pick in what is an under-rated draft class.
Boston could end up with a gem with this pick, and risking that on the health of Vladimir Tarasenko is the wrong path to take. If Boston can find a way to make a trade work with St. Louis that doesn’t involve a first-round pick and has the Blues retaining at least $2 million of his cap hit, this wouldn’t be a bad gamble for a team that may only have a couple of cracks left at winning a cup with this core.