St. Louis Blues’ forward Vladimir Tarasenko sent shockwaves throughout the hockey world with his formal request for a trade. It’s no secret that many teams would do anything for a talent like Tarasenko, so the sweepstakes have officially begun. One team that could benefit from his skill is the Pittsburgh Penguins. They need to shake things up due to their subpar postseason performances, and Tarasenko could be that piece.
Tarasenko was drafted 16th overall in the 2010 NHL draft by the St. Louis Blues. He made his first NHL appearance during the 2012-2013 season, and seemed to struggle a bit. With only 19 points in 38 games, he wasn’t really living up to the expectations. However, he had at least 65 points in nearly every season he’s played since that year. His ability to score goals made him stand out in particular above his teammates, making him into a star.
Of course, Tarasenko also has to be commended for his playoff performance. When he reaches the postseason, he plays to win. Tarasenko has a type of hustle that is hard to match and he was a huge part of the Blues’ Stanley Cup victory in 2019.
However, it all went downhill from there. Tarasenko has had a long history of injuries, and now a persisting shoulder injury has made him play only 34 regular season games in the past two seasons. With all of this in consideration, Tarasenko could be an absolute star on any other team or he could be a gamble when his injuries are taken into consideration. Because of these reasons, should the Pittsburgh Penguins trade for him? Well, yes and no.
Trading For Tarasenko? Yes Please
The goal-scoring winger could be an incredible acquisition for a number of reasons. For one reasons that is quite simple, he can score. It’s hard to say if he would be put on the same line as Sidney Crosby, but it would make a lot of sense to pair him with Evgeni Malkin. Malkin’s linemates have been struggling to put up the goals, and Tarasenko could do that.
Another reason is his playoff performance. Tarasenko, while being the wildcard that Pittsburgh could use, also has experience in the postseason. In the Penguins’ past few playoff appearances, they seemed to lack the urgency and ferocity needed for the postseason. To say the least, Tarasenko could be that added push the Penguins need.
Trading For Tarasenko? No Thank You
Despite numerous great things about Tarasenko, there are always some negatives. One main negative would be his salary. He is currently making $7.5 million, and the Penguins are projected to only have $3.2 million in cap space. The Penguins would have to trade a player that makes at least $4.3 million in order to accommodate Tarasenko’s salary, unless the Blues retain a portion. However, acquiring Tarasenko leads to another problem.
After next season, the Penguins have to have enough cap space to re-sign both Malkin and star defenseman Kris Letang. Their new contracts would be fairly hefty, so they’d need all the cap space they could get. Bringing on Tarasenko would undoubtedly hinder their ability to re-sign their stars, unless one of these stars were involved in the trade.
Acquiring Tarasenko could be both a blessing and a curse. If the Penguins want to remain in a win-now mode, then Tarasenko could be the push they need to next year’s playoffs. However, after that he could have some detrimental effects on the Penguins. It’s hard to say, but hopefully Pittsburgh general manager Ron Hextall puts some serious thought in it.
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