Hold on to your pants, everyone.
Hearing #stlblues have exposed Vladimir Tarasenko in the Expansion Draft and are protecting Ivan Barbashev.
— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) July 17, 2021
And if you’re someone who likes corroboration, here you go:
Have heard that Barbashev camp expects him to be protected, which almost certainly would mean Tarasenko gets exposed. https://t.co/UeqCOdh0iv
— Jim Thomas (@jthom1) July 17, 2021
While it is hard to believe that any Blues fan would be disappointed with hanging on to Barbashev in this year’s NHL expansion draft, it is difficult to imagine that Doug Armstrong would let Tarasenko, or the similarly speculated on Vince Dunn, walk with zero assets in return.
Tarasenko’s shoulder injuries are unappealing for many general managers to take a large risk on, so perhaps the return for the Blues’ star right wing isn’t what Armstrong would like to see. It is difficult to imagine that a package including Dunn wouldn’t get a decent return. By leaving Dunn and Tarasenko both exposed, Armstrong is running the risk of breaking up a valuable combonation that could be more appealing than just Tarasenko alone.
Armstrong may have a deal in place to persuade Kraken GM Ron Francis to take another unprotected plater instead of Dunn or Tarasenko, or perhaps he is banking on Tarasenko’s cap hit to disappear to leave room to sign one or more pending UFAs as well as a big-name on the UFA market. Considering that it appears that the Blues are the current top choice for Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog if he hits the market, maybe Armstrong is focused on that signing. For the Blues to stay under the flat cap, give Landeskog the raise he’s seeking, and lock up either Jaden Schwartz or Tyler Bozak (or both), getting a roster player in return for Dunn and/or Tarasenko may make that difficult.