It was always a farfetched idea that Vladimir Tarasenko could ever return to the St. Louis Blues via free agency in 2023. The Blues didn’t have the cap space and Tarasenko just felt like he had moved on.
However, things clearly did not work out the way Tarasenko intended in his first foray into free agency. He was not one of the big signings on day one and, in fact, took several weeks to find a new team.
Not only did it take time, but it took a lot of twists to get the former Blues sniper inked. He was originally rumored to have signed with the Carolina Hurricanes, but that was either never real or fell apart.
When that signing did not become official, Tarasenko fired yet another agent. Then, it took almost another two weeks for him to have a team for 2023-24.
Interestingly enough, it may only be for 2023-24. Tarasenko signed a one-year deal worth $5 million to play for the Ottawa Senators.
For Tarasenko, it’s a blow to his ego. Ottawa is an up and coming team with plenty of talent, but they aren’t thought of as a contender.
The Senators missed the playoffs by six points in 2022-23. They also only had two more wins than the Blues did.
Tarasenko likely thought he was in for a raise too. Maybe he wasn’t crazy, but I’m sure he was hoping for something around $8 million.
Instead of getting a raise, Tarasenko had to settle for a $2.5 million cut. Instead of getting one, final long-term deal, he’s only guaranteed one season.
While it stinks for Vladi, it is a steal for the Senators. One-year deals are never an albatross and they’re getting a guy that is still capable of scoring a lot of goals.
Plenty of fans in St. Louis soured on Tarasenko, but the reality is that 2022-23 was the only down season of his career when he was fully healthy. Even in a down year, the guy scored 50 points.
No offense, but the combination of the Blues’ failures as a unit in 2022-23, and Tarasenko’s continued unrest with his own situation, it’s no wonder he suffered for production. I don’t care how mentally strong we want to think pro athletes are, you’re going to be affected by personal issues.
Suddenly, the Senators have what will need to be a motivated Tarasenko. He won’t have the excuse of the Blues turmoil next season, so the Sens are banking on him rebounding and, at least, scoring in the mid-to-high 20’s for goals.
If he gets 30-plus goals, the Senators really hit the jackpot. How many other 30-goal scorers do you know of that only cost a team $5 million?
Ultimately, nobody should feel sorry for Tarasenko. Even as one of his bigger fans, I recognize that he caused his own problems with the way things went on the way out of St. Louis and also his agent situation.
I merely think, in terms of on-ice production, Tarasenko still has a lot he can offer. That’s what the Senators are hoping too.
If he plays up to his standards, the Senators got a steal. If he has another down year, it was just a poor decision for one year.
I’ll bet that Tarasenko gets more than 25 goals and 60-plus points. That would be a pretty fantastic combination with St. Louisan Brady Tkachuk.