The St. Louis Blues have had an interesting offseason for 2021. They freaked fans out by letting go of more players than any of us anticipated.
As most know by now, the team traded for Pavel Buchnevich to add scoring and then picked up Brandon Saad in free agency. However, except for the possibility of re-signing Tyler Bozak and extending the team’s restricted free agents, the Blues are probably done with roster moves prior to the season.
Everyone keeps hanging their hats on some big trade that Doug Armstrong might pull, which is not impossible, but seems less likely. With that in mind, at this point, the Blues simply need to keep Vladimir Tarasenko for 2021-22.
Cue the outrage. I know it’s there because I’ve already had several disagreements about this.
The main contention is that people don’t want a player that does not want to be there. How dare someone have personal feelings and feel hurt because their perception of the situation, right?
The funny thing is that fans turned on Tarasenko more than he has actually turned on the city or the franchise. His main contention is that he was hurt by not being considered for the team’s captain and he felt the medical staff did not handle his surgery well.
As outsiders, we have our own views on the C. I do not believe Tarasenko would have been the right choice, but if you had worked at a place for nearly a decade and found yourself up for a potential promotion and they gave it to someone who just joined the company, would you not be upset?
If you had surgery and then had to have the same surgery again, would you not be upset at the doctors? Whether we agree with his feelings does not mean they are not legitimate.
Ah, but Tarasenko asked to be traded. Everyone has their own mental image of how he handled it. Most think he went stomping into Amrstrong’s office, crossed his arms, pouted like a petulant six year old and demanded a trade. The reality is he may have simply laid out his grievances like a professional and just said it might be best for everyone to explore their options.
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I guarantee lots of players ask to be traded and it does not happen or we don’t hear that they asked. It is only a big deal because it became public.
People forget that Kobe Bryant demanded to be traded from the Los Angeles Lakers in 2007. The trade was actually made and the only reason Bryant was not wearing a Bulls uniform is because Bryant wanted to play with Luol Deng. Deng was included in the agreed upon part of the trade to the Lakers, so it all fell apart.
That ended up being best for the Lakers. They went on to win two championships.
One disagreement said hockey is just different than basketball. No offense, but we need to stop treating sports like it is different in general, regardless of how the locker rooms actually are different.
Maybe Tarasenko doesn’t see eye to eye with his coach or, perhaps, some of his teammates. Get over it and do the job.
In fact, it should be easier in sports than in regular life. You’re all trying to go to the same goal, which is winning a championship. So, playing your best should be paramount even if you dislike the guy on your left or right.
Brayden Schenn has reportedly had a dislike for Tarasenko since he arrived. That did not stop them from winning a Stanley Cup in 2019 and playing well on the same line for several years now.
Why is the Tarasenko issue so much larger than anything else? It’s all based on stories people have heard.
There were stories about Alex Steen basically playing a major role getting Ken Hitchcock fired and also causing locker room strife because he was not made captain. Somehow that got forgotten because Steen never asked to be traded and also because he turned into a team player in 2019.
What is to say Tarasenko could not have things smoothed over? Most will answer that he has damaged too many relationships on the team.
If you can help a team win, don’t you think that will smooth things over? The way Aaron Rodgers has handled things with the Green Bay Packers has to have bothered teammates, but they’re going to know his talents give them the best shot to win.
Which brings us to the final point. If Tarasenko is healthy, there is not anyone available right now that gives St. Louis as much a chance to win as he does.
Fans can point to the shoulder problem all they want, but like politicians, they don’t have solutions. Jack Eichel is actually injury prone. If people say it’s a waste of money to keep a potentially injured Tarasenko, why would you make a “blockbuster” trade to pick up Eichel who makes $10 million and wants to have experimental surgery on his neck that is just as likely to end his career as it is to succeed?
Taylor Hall was always a favorite name to kick around before he stuck in Boston. Nevermind the fact that he scored 30-plus goals once in his career and Tarasenko did it in five straight seasons prior to his injuries.
I still contend that even a lessened Tarasenko will score you 20-plus goals. The Blues need that kind of scoring and it would not be easily replaced unless Armstrong has a major trade that has not even been rumored.
As excited as we all should be about the additions of Buchnevich and Saad, it essentially just replaced the production that was lost with Hoffman and Schwartz. The Blues went into the offseason needing to add scoring. So, how would it make sense to trade away another scorer when the most you would do is offset the loss?
No. Simply put, the Blues need to keep Tarasenko.
If he truly wants to be traded, you tell him that he needs to prove his worth with a good season in 2021-22. If the market is as barren as has been reported, then you do not trade a potential 20-30 goal scorer for a mid-round draft pick.
It does not matter who Jeremy Rutherford’s anonymous source is, you don’t trade Tarasenko right now just because this person claims you are out of options. You have to get NHL-ready talent for that kind of player, regardless of what the fan sentiment is about the trade request.
"The source said Armstrong has miscalculated the situation, asking for “too much” in return. There were once four teams interested in Tarasenko, and there are still at least two, but the options are dwindling after Wednesday’s signings around the league.source – ‘The latest on the Blues and Vladimir Tarasenko: Source says trade value is decreasing — ‘it’s time to move him’ – Jeremy Rutherford – The Athletic (via The Hockey Writers)"
Rutherford continued to say, on 101 ESPN, he believes there is 0% chance Tarasenko stays with the Blues and that the cord has been cut for both sides. While he has inside sources and has been a reliable source of information, I don’t buy it yet.
On the one hand, you have league sources saying the Blues are holding out for too much and on the other hand we have Armstrong saying he will not give up his player for nothing and Tarasenko must prepare as though he will start the season in St. Louis. If the teams involved are not offering a return, you cannot give up a potential 30-goal scorer for a bag of pucks.
We circle back to Tarasenko being the one to ask for the trade. In an interview with former New York Rangers head coach Dan Quinn, it was revealed that Buchnevich demanded a trade during his tenure in New York. Quinn played it off as though it was just heat of the moment stuff. While every situation is unique, it seems odd to be alright with one and not the other.
Last, but definitely not least, is the salary issue. Perhaps the Blues do want to trade Tarasenko, but Armstrong is 100% right to not want to retain any of the salary.
While the Blues are not going to attempt wooing any top stars, it just doesn’t make sense for them to hold onto salary just to get rid of a player. You may as well keep him, raise his stock when he proves he is healthy and trade him with no salary retention.
If Tarasenko goes, his entire $7.5 million needs to go with him. If you cannot accomplish that, the deal makes little sense.
Even from my perspective, this is a rotten situation with little hope for a good ending. However, even with the new additions, the Blues simply do not have the scoring depth to be considered a contender if they trade Tarasenko for nothing.
Trading him for something is out of the question from many accounts. So, retaining his services while he’s motivated to prove people wrong makes sense.
The sad thing is we may never know what truly sparked this. Yes, the surgeries and the captaincy played a role, but a long-standing relationship shouldn’t melt down like this over night. How did we go from Tarasenko playing Berube-style hockey in 2019 to being accused of being selfish and not a team player just two years later?