St. Louis Blues Vladimir Tarasenko Skating Raises Questions

St. Louis Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko (91)Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
St. Louis Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko (91)Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports /

The St. Louis Blues just released a brief video showing Vladimir Tarasenko skating and practicing. That should be a good, or even great, thing, right?

I know that I would love to have him back. Beyond the current injury situation the Blues are experiencing, it’s just hard to replace a 30-goal scorer.

St. Louis is struggling offensively and the return of a sniper would provide extra depth and allow Craig Berube to move pieces around that might fit better. However, this update is not all sunshine and lollipops.

In a vacuum, this is all good news. It also raises questions.

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What kind of timetable are we on? As fans, we don’t need to know really, but Tarasenko was not wearing any kind of no-contact jersey in practice. Is he a couple weeks away? Is he still a month or more away?

Knowing that makes a big difference in how the team approaches things. You don’t want to be too cautious if the team is fighting for their playoff lives. You also don’t want to rush him and end his career for sure by reinjuring the shoulder for a third or fourth time.

If Tarasenko is close, that also raises big time questions for the front office. How does he fit in with his salary.

The Cliff Notes version of the cap situation is that if Tarasenko can return during the regular season, the Blues have to have $7.5 million in space available. How they accomplish that is the part that becomes cloudy.

St. Louis currently has just over $4.2 million in salary relief from LTIR. Just a few days ago, that number was over $5 million. Don’t ask me what happened to make it change, because I’m not sure.

Even if we go with the over $5 million number, that still leaves almost $2.5 million to clear off the books to fit one player. Do you have to trade those players to make the cap fit? Can you simply move some to the taxi squad to make it work?

For example, could you move Zach Sanford and Kyle Clifford to the taxi squad to free up that $2.5 million? It would seem that would be within the rules.

However, it seems like any time the situation is discussed on the radio, trades are the only option being brought up. That seems like a pretty raw deal to have to trade someone for nothing to afford one player.

It that is indeed the case, it circles back to how close is Tarasenko. If it will still be a couple months, it might make sense to simply hold him out until the playoffs and then not worry about having to trade anyone.

If it will be somewhat soon, those decisions will be difficult.

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Getting Tarasenko back would be a good thing. It still raises those questions and maybe only Doug Armstrong has the answers.