Rangers trade for Vladimir Tarasenko
ST. LOUIS, MO - MAY 21: St. Louis Blues right wing Vladimir Tarasenko (91) during game three of a first round Stanley Cup Playoff series between the Colorado Avalanche and the St. Louis Blues on May 21, 2021, at Enterprise Center, St. Louis, Mo. (Photo by Keith Gillett/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images),

Before Tampa Bay lifted their second straight Stanley Cup, the NHL rumor mill was ablaze as Vladimir Tarasenko has requested a trade out of St. Louis. Among the teams mentioned as potential destinations for Tarasenko were the Rangers, which was a little surprising.

Tarasenko, 29, requested the trade due to St. Louis botching his shoulder surgeries in 2018 and 2019, and then waiting too long for a third operation on the same shoulder in 2020. The Blues don’t have the best track record with handling injuries, and Tarasenko believes the trust is completely gone. If it were me, I’d have no trust left either, especially since it was the Blues’ physicians who managed the first two surgeries.

He’s not 25 anymore

When we think of Vlad Tarasenko, we think of what he was four years ago. And to be fair, he should be pretty close to that production level if he’s healthy. Given the two years and $7.5 million cap hit, he better keep up that 25 year old production, where he put up 75 points.

Since then, however, Tarasenko hasn’t cracked 70 points. He hit 66 and 68 points in the next two seasons before his shoulder injuries took control of his career. In 34 games over the last two seasons, Tarasenko has a line of 7-17-24. It’s not far off from his career year(s), but a lingering shoulder injury does bring doubt into this.

With Tarasenko, the concern is naturally going to be his injury. He’s a legitimate offensive force when healthy, and now the question about his health is being called into question. The last two years have been a far cry from what we are used to seeing. Is that a permanent issue, given his three shoulder operations in two years? Or is it a blip because of the recovery timeline and his changed role with the Blues?

The fit with the Rangers

Oddly enough, the article with The Athletic mentions the Rangers as a potential destination for Vladimir Tarasenko. Of course, they should have drafted him in 2010, but it’s been 11 years and I swear I’m not still bitter about it…

I don’t know how much I buy the Rangers as a potential fit, though. Tarasenko is yet another winger for a team loaded with wingers. As great as the name is, the logjam with Pavel Buchnevich, Kaapo Kakko, and Vitali Kravtsov on the right side is real. Even if you were to move him to the left side, that’s Artemiy Panarin, Chris Kreider, and Alexis Lafreniere blocking him. Unless there’s a major shakeup, there’s no fit in the top nine.

Entertaining this a little more, let’s say the Rangers move Buchnevich to fit Tarasenko on the roster. Is Buchnevich and another roster player enough? St. Louis is in a win-now window, so picks and prospects don’t get it done. It’s unlikely there is a fit with both teams to make a deal work.

It’s a bit odd that the Rangers were mentioned as a destination. There isn’t a trade fit, nor is there a roster fit. This one, like the Oliver Ekman-Larsson rumor, doesn’t pass the sniff test.

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