Vladimir Tarasenko has formally requested a trade from the Blues expressing frustration with how the team handled his shoulder surgeries.
Per The Athletic, Vladimir Tarasenko has requested to be traded with two years remaining on his contract. As the article notes, the Blues star forward comes at a $7.5M cap hit, but his base salary is actually $9.5M in the 2021-22 season.
Tarasenko, 29, reportedly reached a breaking point with the Blues regarding how the team handled his shoulder surgeries in 2018 and 2019. The star forward even went as far as to say that he complained about shoulder discomfort before joining the team in the playoff bubble last season.
Needless to say, there is no trust left between player and organization, and Tarasenko would like to finish out his contract elsewhere.
He would obviously prefer to go to a contender, with Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh, New York Islanders, Vegas, and Washington named as destinations, among others. However, all of those teams have salary cap issues, some more than others.
Should the LA Kings make a move for him?
Last week, the Kings were loosely tied to Tarasenko in what we called The Fun Rumor of the Day. When healthy, that’s the operative word here, the Russian forward is one of the best players in the NHL. However, he’s played in just 34 games over the last two seasons, amassing 7 goals and 17 assists in that time.
Of course, players like Sam Reinhart, Conor Garland, Jake DeBrusk, among others, are probably better – and safer – options to pursue. Playing devil’s advocate here, Reinhart and Garland could see a hefty return the other way, given their age.
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According to The Athletic, the Blues still consider themselves to be within their championship window, suggesting Tarasenko wouldn’t be moved for rebuilding pieces. But the Blues would likely have to eat some of Tarasenko’s salary to make any deal work and depending on how much could lower the asking price.
There are a lot of factors at play here, but the Blues have $17.4M in cap space this summer available but they have several notable free agents to retain including Mike Hoffman, Jaden Schwartz, Jordan Kyrou. It’s also important to note that David Perron will become a free agent after next season.
The Blues are also without second-round and fourth-round picks in this month’s draft, so perhaps a return for prospects and picks is the best option of them all.
As for the Kings, they have the pieces, prospects, and picks to make this deal work, but they would have to do their due diligence on Tarasenko’s shoulder to ensure they get the most of his remaining two seasons. Which also raises the question of whether the Kings should even make this move if they aren’t ready to contend for a Stanley Cup when Tarasenko’s contract expires. It’s certainly a lot to consider.