Fun rumor of the day: Vladimir Tarasenko to the LA Kings

LA Kings (Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports)
LA Kings (Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports) /

It’s the offseason, so it’s time to let the rumors begin! Today’s rumor has Vladimir Tarasenko of the St. Louis Blues possibly being traded to the LA Kings.

Every NHL off-season, you can count on some wild trade rumors being floated around, and why not? As the reality that there will be no game action for a few months sets in, we as fans need something to keep our collective imaginations occupied until the puck drops for a new regular season in October. The LA Kings are already at the heart of several speculative off-season moves, and here’s one today that came out of nowhere but is quite interesting nonetheless.

Before everyone starts ordering their LA Kings Vladimir Tarasenko jerseys, keep in mind this is an unsubstantiated rumor. There has been absolutely nothing else to suggest any hard evidence that the Kings will try to get Tarasenko.

However, according to The Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli, the Blues are reportedly interested in trading their star winger.

Why would the St. Louis Blues do it?

That is the ultimate question, as there have been no major indications that Tarasenko is unhappy in St. Louis. He seems to be liked and respected in the locker room and the community, and he does wear an “A” on his sweater for the Blues. The 29-year-old right-wing carries a $7.5 million cap hit for this coming season and the next, after which he will hit unrestricted free agency. His current contract also carries a no-trade clause.

When Tarasenko is healthy, he is a legitimate 30 goal scorer, and the Blues are a much better team with him in the lineup. The keyword there is “when,” as he has missed significant time over the past two seasons with multiple right shoulder surgeries. Perhaps St. Louis is getting nervous about the repeat shoulder injuries and might be thinking they could get max return on Tarasenko while he is actually healthy rather than risk him being injured again.

This is pure speculation on my part, as again, there have been no substantiated reports of the Blues being unhappy with Tarasenko or publically worried about the shoulder injuries. On the other hand, NHL teams are typically very guarded about injury news and reports, so there’s that as well.

So what would the Blues want in return for Tarasenko? Of course, for a player of his caliber, they would want a first-round draft pick as well as a prospect or two. Given his recent injury history and $7.5 million cap hit for the next two seasons, it’s hard to imagine St. Louis getting that kind of return without retaining half or at least some of his salary.

The Blues are not deep into “cap hell,” so to speak. Per CapFriendly, they have just over $17 million in cap space available – but they do have players like Jaden Schwartz, Jordan Kyrou, Robert Thomas, Ivan Barbashev, and Vince Dunn, among others, to re-sign this offseason. They will need to bring Colton Parayko and David Perron back into the fold the following season, so they will need to make every dollar count.

What would the LA Kings hypothetically give up?

Certainly not a first-round pick. To start with, the LA Kings can take on Tarasenko’s entire salary (not a lot of teams comfortably can), so there is no leverage there for the Blues to demand a first-rounder. The St. Louis Blues are an aging team with only five draft picks in 2021 and six draft picks in 2022, and wouldn’t you know it, but the Kings have several draft picks and prospects.

I could see the Kings giving the Blues their own second-round draft pick in this year’s draft, one of their third-round picks in this year’s draft, and a prospect like Tyler Madden. It might seem a little steep to some, but remember, supposedly several teams are interested in Tarasenko as well (and why wouldn’t they be), so LA might have to offer a package like that to get ahead of the competition.

The injury history does scare me, but with two seasons left on his contract, Tarasenko would be a perfect bridge player to help the LA Kings get back into playoff contention while serving as a mentor for some of the kids. If he can stay healthy, imagine these line combinations for the opening night of 2021-22:

Iafallo – Kopitar – Tarasenko


Kempe – Vilardi – Tarasenko

I actually like the pairing with Vilardi as it would give him the legitimate scoring threat to complement his exceptional passing and set up abilities. Tarasenko would also instantly become the number one threat on the Kings’ power play.

After all of this has been laid out, please remember this is 100 percent speculation at this point. I am in no way suggesting trading for Vladimir Tarasenko has been discussed by either the St. Louis Blues or the LA Kings, but it is the off-season, so it’s time for all of us to have some fun and play armchair GM. Buckle up, hockey fans. It’s the fun, rumor-filled time of the year!