As the trade rumors fly ahead of the 2021 offseason, there have been no lack of options for the Flyers to acquire a big star. One of the more fascinating names that has appeared on the rumor mill is St. Louis Blues sniper Vladimir Tarasenko.
Tarasenko, who will turn 30 in December, is best known for his five consecutive 30-plus goal seasons from 2014 to 2019, but his aging hasn’t exactly been graceful. He’s only played 34 of the Blues’ 127 games during the last two seasons due to shoulder surgery, making it his third time under the knife for the same issue since April 2018. During his late season return in 2020, he did manage to score four goals and 14 points in 24 games, but as beat writer Lou Korac alluded to during an interview on Brotherly Pod, he didn’t look great doing so.
Rumors have emerged that the Blues may deal Tarasenko ahead of the Seattle expansion draft at the end of the month to cover their bases elsewhere in their expansion needs. He’s got two years left on his deal that pays him $7.5 million per season.
The injuries are a damning issue when it comes to Tarasenko. Before his issues emerged, he was a consistent 30-goal, 70-point forward, regularly among to top scorers in the league. Though three shoulder surgeries later, one has to wonder what Tarasenko really has left in the tank?
Tarasenko was allowed to join Team Russia at the IIHF World Championships after the Blues were eliminated from the playoffs as a way to get him some extra playing time. He recorded two assists in three games as the Russians came in fifth place. Tarasenko did confess he was injured during the playoffs, though it was unrelated to his previous shoulder injury. During his exit interviews, he defended his health-
“Honestly, nobody knows what my injuries were. Everybody think it’s the same thing for three (surgeries), but this is not true. There is three different things that happen. Now the shoulder is 100 percent, I have no concerns about it. There’s a lot of predictions, a lot of stuff, but you know, the time will show who is right and who is wrong.”
The Blues are in a bad spot when it comes to leverage in a trade. Not only has Tarasenko’s value fallen from grace given his lack of production and injuries, but if they’re looking to move him before the expansion draft, there is a level of desperation that comes with those trade aspirations. Asking any team to eat $7.5 million for a player that is potentially far past his prime will come at a cost for the Blues.
Does it make sense for the Flyers to take a chance on Tarasenko? Only if he comes dirt cheap. If he can’t contribute more than a handful of goals a season and may miss more time with injuries, there’s no reason to pursue him. Though, if the third surgery was the charm and his shoulder injuries are indeed behind him like he claims, he’d be a great option to potentially acquire cheap and the risk was potentially worth the reward.
In the grand scheme of things, an expensive veteran winger with potential health problems is pretty low on the list of things the Flyers need this summer. It’s also unlikely the Blues would deal Tarasenko for next to nothing, even with all the factors working against him. As enticing of a name as Vladimir Tarasenko may be, it’s best Chuck Fletcher stays away from this one.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: si.com