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The Boston Bruins Should Take a Look at Vladimir Tarasenko

(Photo Credit: Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

By: Tom Calautti | Follow me on Twitter @TCalauttis and Linktree

As the NHL season inches closer and closer to the all-star break, the rumor mill has begun to swirl, and one of the first big names has finally appeared on the trade block. After an offseason full of hype and heightened expectations, the Ottawa Senators have disappointed thus far. They sit in last place in the Atlantic Division with a record of 15-24 and are beginning to gauge interest in some of their unrestricted free agents. The first skater they’re willing to move is Vladimir Tarasenko.

Bruins fans will remember Tarasenko from the 2018-19 season when he and the St. Louis Blues thwarted Boston’s hopes for another championship. The Russian-born winger notched three goals and an assist across the seven-game series and helped the Blues prevail over the Black and Gold in game seven of the Stanley Cup Finals.

Tarasenko only played 34 combined games in the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons due to injury before returning to form in 2021-22. The 32-year-old registered 34 goals, 48 assists, and 82 points across the 75 games in that season. He was traded to the New York Rangers at the deadline in 2022-23 and finished the season with 18 goals, 32 assists, and 50 points in 69 games.

This season, Tarasenko signed a one-year deal with the Ottawa Senators and continued to put up solid numbers as a top-six contributor. He has ten goals, 18 assists, and 28 points across 37 games and is an impressive +9 despite his team’s record.

His ability to produce at five-on-five makes him a natural fit for Boston. The Bruins currently rank 12th in the NHL in even-strength scoring, an area they’d love to improve ahead of the March 8 trade deadline. Tarasenko has 23 of his 28 points at even strength, nine of which are goals. Those nine goals would rank fifth in even-strength scoring on the current iteration of the Bruins. A trade for him would add serious punch to a top-six struggling to contribute at five-on-five.

Tarasenko could slide in next to Pavel Zacha and David Pastrnak, taking some of the scoring burden off of Pastrnak’s back and allowing him to flex his passing muscles. Jim Montgomery could also slide him next to Brad Marchand and Charlie Coyle, solidifying the team’s second line and allowing more freedom to try new combinations next to Pastrnak. However you slice it, adding him to the lineup makes this Bruins team better across the board.

The other piece that makes Tarasenko an attractive trade piece is his acumen as a playoff performer. The former New York Ranger has 41 goals, 19 assists, and 60 points in 90 career playoff games. He would provide the Bruins with a proven playoff scorer, someone who can perform when the lights are the brightest, and put the puck in the net when things matter most.

The issue with this acquisition comes when you start to think about what kind of compensation Tarasenko would require. He’s on a one-year, $5 million contract and will become a free agent this offseason. The fact that he’s a rental may bring the price down, but Boston’s lack of draft capital or cap space makes this deal difficult.

The Bruins only have three picks in the 4th, 5th, and 6th rounds of the NHL Draft, and mortgaging more of their future would be unwise at this juncture. Don Sweeney and Co would have to pull off a hockey trade, dealing with NHL contracts and prospects to obtain Tarasenko. Maybe a package involving Matt Grzelcyk and several prospects could get the deal done, but I doubt Ottawa would take that deal.

The harsh reality is that Boston probably can’t afford a rental of Tarasenko’s quality, given their bare cupboard. Despite him being a perfect ‘on-paper’ fit, the team isn’t in a position to make a deal like this. However, if the market is dry due to the league-wide cap strain and the price on him were to come down, the Boston Bruins should be ready to jump at the opportunity for a Tarasenko trade.

1 Comment

  1. Wendy

    No, no, no, no! Lazy player who won’t play defense isn’t what they need.

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