The St. Louis Blues are having an absolutely awful second half of 2017-18. It has been so bad to make some fans question whether they want their star to remain.
When the St. Louis Blues signed Vladimir Tarasenko to a contract extension, the idea that he would ever not be a member of the Blues seemed implausible or at least so far away as to not consider. How things have turned.
Tarasenko is only in the third season of his eight year contract. He is currently earning $7.5 million and will continue to earn that the rest of the deal.
When the contract was signed, it seemed a fair price. Tarasenko was coming off his first 70-plus point season and $7.5 million seemed almost like a steal.
Now, in one partial season, the worm has turned so to speak. Fans are suddenly including Tarasenko as part of the problem with this current Blues incarnation.
The Blues are definitely having an awful time of it right now. They’ve lost six games in a row and have been playing .500 hockey since December.
Tarasenko has not been the man to lift them from their doldrums. That cannot be denied.
He only has one goal and four points during the team’s losing streak. Beyond that, the team has struggled to score overall.
Tarasenko has been part of those struggles. He only has three goals in the last month.
For some reason, the struggles have pushed fans over the edge. The idea that it’s just a poor season is not good enough. Suddendly, the team’s savior is now either just a man or worse, garbage meant for the refuse bin.
As much as you might want to, you cannot refuse the idea of trading Tarsenko out of hand. He would fetch a mega haul, the likes of which the Blues might never see again or may have never seen before.
If you think the team has no future as currently constituted, then it might make sense to use that kind of haul to retool or rebuild. However, that is about as far as the argument can logically go.
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There are many reasons you do not get rid of your current star if you are the Blues. We will go over some of them.
First and foremost, we already discussed the contract. If you think you can land a true upgrade, it’s going to cost you.
The ownership team will have to pay Tarasenko more or less each season. However, as far as he costs the team against the cap, it’s a cool $7.5 million each time out.
The league’s top two goal scorers are getting $9.5 million. There are a couple guys in the top 10 making less than Tarasenko’s contract, but they are younger. They are going to get paid and the value will be higher than our 91 is getting now.
The point is the Blues are still getting good value for their dollar. Just because fans expect unrealistic numbers that are not being seen around the league is not reason enough to jettison a player.
There Is No Internal Replacement
If there was a player within the ranks that could conceivably replace Tarasenko, you could at least entertain the idea of a trade. That does not exist.
We are all high on the potential futures of Tage Thompson, Robert Thomas or Jordan Kyrou. If they live up to their full potentials, they should all be solid to good NHL players.
They do not have the potential of Tarasenko, however. As much as we marvel at Kyrou’s ability to score in the CHL, there is absolutely no reason to believe that will translate.
You can compare Kyrou to someone like Robby Fabbri or Alex DeBrincat. You cannot automatically assume he can become a 40 goal scorer though.
You hope these guys turn into something special. You do not know that they will and that precludes you from thinking about getting rid of someone you know can produce those kinds of numbers.
There is definitely no one on the NHL team capable of replacing his numbers. Brayden Schenn is having a hell of a season. However, he is two goals and four points from career highs.
If you did not know, that means he has never scored 30 goals and he has never had sixty points. Tarasenko has three straight 70-plus point seasons.
Schenn looks like he could have a great career with the Blues. He is not a true replacement though.
Goal Scorers Don’t Grow On Trees
The truth is, even if you eliminate the potential cost, it’s hard to find goal scorers. Guys that can regularly score 30-plus goals don’t just come around very often.
Looking at some of the guys fans wanted to add, they don’t measure up.
Mike Hoffman has never had 30 goals in one season. You could argue that Hoffman has been more consistent than Tarasenko, but he’s not as good. 61 points for a career high does not quite measure up to 70.
Fans are clamoring for the Blues to go after John Tavares. He only has one more 30-plus goal season in his pocket than Tarasenko.
Looking at a list of the current league leaders, how many names would you take over Tarasenko on a year other than this? If push came to shove, there are less than 10 names I would pick.
It’s not just as easy as getting rid of him for the sake of it. You have to know you have a replacement and the Blues do not and would not.
Beyond that, Tarasenko is just having a bad year and still has 24 goals with 19 games left to play. That is enough time to still score 30 goals and have it be classified as a down year.
You don’t just send that away. You surround that with better talent.
Tarasenko will never be Brett Hull, but he does not need to be in today’s game. He simply needs to be the best Vladimir Tarasenko he can be and the Blues will be better for it.