One of the biggest storylines of the NHL offseason was forward Vladimir Tarasenko requesting a trade from the St. Louis Blues.
Tarasenko had spent his entire career with the team and was a key part of their Stanley Cup win in 2019. The trade request was made back in May and reportedly stemmed from Tarasenko being uspet with the team’s handling of his shoulder surgeries.
However, after a summer of speculation as to where he could go and what a trade could look like, the final result was Tarasenko staying in St. Louis. The winger was never dealt, remaining with the team to start the 2021-22 season.
The result: Vladimir Tarasenko is having one of the best seasons of his career with the team he wanted to be traded away from.
This season, Tarasenko has already scored 14 goals and 33 points in 33 games, a pace of 35 goals and 82 points per 82 games. While he has reached that goal total before, he has yet to pass 75 points in a season.
It’s an excellent start for the forward, who missed the majority of the last two seasons due to injury. Over the two years in between the Blues’ Stanley Cup win in 2019 and the current season, Tarasenko suited up for just 34 regular-season games. His production was also down in the games he did play last year, scoring just four goals and 14 points in 24 games.
His injury trouble surely would’ve been a cause for concern amongst potential trade partners and was likely a key reason he’s still in St. Louis right now. Tarasenko was even not only exposed by the Blues in the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft but then also passed over by the Seattle Kraken in favor of defenseman Vince Dunn.
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Vladimir Tarasenko’s success is somewhat of a surprising turn of events. Not only is he playing some of the best hockey of his career after the injury trouble, but the trade request has proven to be no distraction for the Blues. Sometimes we see the situation dragged out as teams look for suitors and it can become an awkward situation with a ton of media coverage. However, it seems as though both the team and player are handling the situation in the best way possible, having found mutual success once again.
His numbers seem to be quite sustainable as well. Tarasenko’s shooting percentage this season sits at just 12.1%, compared to an even higher career shooting percentage of 12.6%. The forward also currently leads the team in shots by a wide margin, sitting with 116 shots, with Pavel Buchnevich having registered the second-most shots on the Blues at 94. While 10 of Tarasenko’s points have came on the power play, that doesn’t take anything away from his play at even strength, given he leads the team in even strength goals. If that isn’t enough, he also leads all forwards on the team in blocked shots.
The Blues currently sit second in the Western Conference in points percentage and look like Stanley Cup contenders again, with Tarasenko playing a key role in that. However, the notable question still remains whether Tarasenko will be traded at some point this season.
We haven’t heard much about a potential deal for Tarasenko recently, though we can bet that there are probably more teams interested after seeing his performance this year than there would’ve been this past offseason. Despite his cap hit, it’s still somewhat surprising that nobody made more of an effort to go after the forward in the summer, given his contract will expire in 2023 anyways and we all knew that Tarasenko returning to form this season was highly possible.
With the Blues now a very competitive team, it almost makes a deal for Vladimir Tarasenko more difficult in a way. While there’s likely more interest now, the team is in a position to contend and losing Tarasenko would undoubtedly hurt their chances. You have to bet that in any deal, the Blues would want to get somebody back who could help the team right now.
However, high-profile deals between two contenders around the deadline are very uncommon and would certainly make for something we don’t see very often. Then if there’s no swap available, would the Blues consider taking future assets and then immediately flipping those assets elsewhere for a player who can help right now? Or instead, do they end up just keeping the forward and trying to figure out a solution this summer?
Regardless of the outcome, Tarasenko sticking with the Blues for now remains a very interesting storyline to keep an eye on. While he remains one of the league’s most exciting and talented forwards, it seemed unlikely that the situation would play out the way it has this season.
It’s up in the air as to whether Vladimir Tarasenko will still be with the Blues in a month, two months, or a year from now. Right now, however, he’s managing to put together another great season with the very team he asked to be traded away from.