Is Doug Armstrong working the phones this summer?
There’s been speculation since the end of the Blues’ brief playoff run that Vladimir Tarasenko’s time in St. Louis is coming to an end. His shoulder surgeries have taken a toll on his productivity, and there’s the risk that one more injury may be it for him. Limited to just ten games in 2019-2020 and 24 games in 2021, Tarasenko’s productivity has, expectedly, dipped significantly. His two goals in the Blues’ final game against the Colorado Avalanche gave fans something to be optimistic about, but he didn’t look like himself after his return from rehabbing his latest surgery. He was tentative, and his four goals and ten assists during the last regular season was evidence that he still was not playing at full blast.
According to a report from Frank Seravalli, Doug Armstrong is said to be exploring his options with his marquee right-winger. Tarasenko has reportedly let Armstrong know a list of teams that he’d be willing to be traded to, so while the due diligence is being done, it’s going to be limited. That limitation, of course, lowers the possibility that Tarasenko will be traded, because it limits the options that Armstrong has for a deal.
Tarasenko, not counting the last two seasons, has scored fewer than thirty goals in a full season only once, in 2013-2014, when he played just 64 games. What Armstrong will be banking on is that Tarasenko’s goal scoring productivity will not reach those levels again, and that other GMs will assume that the productivity will return in a future season. That’s a tough set-up for talks. Front offices around the league will assume Armstrong’s reasoning for a deal (why else would the Blues ditch a goal scorer if they don’t think he’ll score goals?), and the return for Tarasenko could well be diminished because of that.
There’s also the risk of Armstrong miscalculating. Getting a diminished return on Tarasenko and then having him turn around and put up another 25 to 30 goals after being traded won’t look good, but most importantly, won’t do the team any good. Armstrong has lost some goodwill thanks to the non-signing of Alex Pietrangelo last off-season, and trading another marquee player and fan favorite may not go over well.
Of course, Army doesn’t make decisions based on what the fans want, he makes decisions based on what he feels will be best for the team. This will come down to evaluating if it’s better to take a risk on Tarasenko’s shoulder being recovered or taking the gamble that it isn’t – and that what return is made from a trade will contribute more to the team than keeping Tarasenko in St. Louis.