Carolina Hurricanes: Does Acquiring Vladimir Tarasenko Make Sense?

Mar 25, 2021; Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA; St. Louis Blues right wing Vladimir Tarasenko (91) skates with the puck in the third period against the St. Louis Blues at Xcel Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: David Berding-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 25, 2021; Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA; St. Louis Blues right wing Vladimir Tarasenko (91) skates with the puck in the third period against the St. Louis Blues at Xcel Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: David Berding-USA TODAY Sports /

The Carolina Hurricanes are reportedly looking for upgrades in the top 6 or top 9 forward group and just this past week, Jeremy Rutherford of The Athletic reported that Vladimir Tarasenko has officially asked for a trade away from the St. Louis Blues. He is reportedly very upset with how the Blues organization handled his shoulder surgeries, and feels as if there is no trust left between him and the organization. In both the first and second surgeries, the ligament damage in his shoulders was not corrected, and wasn’t caught until Tarasenko was seen by non-team doctors.

The main problem with Tarasenko, as you can probably tell, is his health. After reading the fantastic article from Rutherford back in March about all of Tarasenko’s shoulder problems, you can really tell that the Blues doctors and surgeons messed up. From that article, he mentions that in the Edmonton bubble, Tarasenko was told he didn’t incur a new injury after mentioning to the team that his shoulder didn’t feel right. After going to a non-team facility, they determined that a lesion was never addressed and did a third surgery in two years to hopefully fix this.

The article also mentions that the three surgeons they consulted with, Ron Noy, Richard Lehman, and Philip Chandler all have a good amount of optimism that this third surgery finally fixed the issue and he should have a full recovery and be the player that he was before the first injury.

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So, just how good was Vladimir Tarasenko before the shoulder issues? When you think of Russian snipers, everyone’s mind immediately goes to Alex Ovechkin. But Tarasenko deserves some genuine consideration, as he is an absolute machine with his shot. Drafted 16th overall in 2010 by the St. Louis Blues, Tarasenko has 218 goals and 442 points in 531 career NHL games. In every year where Tarasenko plays at least 70+ games, he has scored 30+ goals, with his career high of 40 goals being scored in 2015-2016. He even performs well in the playoffs; in 78 career playoff games, he has 35 goals and 51 points and that one Stanley Cup in 2018-2019.

Going into his advanced stats during that cup year for St. Louis (prior to his shoulder problems), Vladimir Tarasenko’s expected goals per 60 minutes was 1.17, higher than players such as Sidney Crosby, Nathan Mackinnon and Jamie Benn. His high danger expected goals of 8.42 was good for 2nd on the Blues, his Corsi of 60% was the highest on the Blues, and he created the most rebounds on that team. Tarasenko is a legitimate threat to score from anywhere as long as his shoulders stay alive.

There are two main issues that people might find with facilitating a Tarasenko trade to the Carolina Hurricanes. The first of this problem is Tarasenko’s cap hit – going into the next season, Tarasenko is going to be owed $9.5 million as his salary but his cap hit is actually $7.5 million.

A partial solution to this problem is remembering back to last year, when a rumor was floating around when the Tampa Bay Lightning were trying to figure their salary cap issues (pre Nikita Kucherov shenanigans) and Tom Dundon was trying to facilitate a trade for Steven Stamkos.

Dundon wants to make a big move and isn’t afraid to splash the cash for a big star. The Carolina Hurricanes also have around $29 million dollars to play around with in free agency, which is well more than enough to bring in a big name like Tarasenko and his cap hit and still sign all the important pieces.

The second major hurdle that the Carolina Hurricanes face in acquiring Tarasenko is his modified No Trade Clause. Something interesting was said, though, as on June 30th, a radio host for 101 ESPN Sports Talk for St. Louis mentioned that Vladimir Tarasenko may be interested in waiving his NTC to come to Carolina due to his friendship with Teuvo Teravainen. According to that same radio host, he would waive for the Carolina Hurricanes, New York Islanders, Vegas Golden Knights and Boston Bruins.

Plugging Tarasenko into the top 9 formula, which takes into account a Andrei Svechnikov contract extension (as the likelihood of it not happening is virtually zero), you get something like this:




A true top line goal-scoring winger coming to a mutual decision with his team about moving on doesn’t happen every day, so making a trade like this needs to at least be talked about in the front office. This top 9 is one of, if not the best, in the NHL and would be very, very entertaining to watch.

Surrounding Svechnikov with a Russian that has had immense success in the NHL could also be massive for his development. That top line would be a statistical anomaly if Tarasenko stays healthy; the 2nd line becomes even more elite, and the 3rd line becomes even more annoying to play against with Nino Niederreiter and Jordan Staal both having good defensive ability and nice goal scoring touches. The third line right winger remains blank for now, as we don’t know who will fill that spot since Warren Foegele potentially wants a change of scenery.

So, what would it take to get Vladimir Tarasenko? This is probably the most interesting part about the Tarasenko situation, as in Rutherford’s article about Tarasenko’s trade request, he mentions that the Blues still think that their championship window is open. They might not be completely interested in prospects, and more interested in getting roster players that can help right away. On the other hand, the Blues might have to retain some of Tarasenko’s contract to even facilitate a trade to a contender in the first place.

My immediate thinking is doing a trade based around Warren Foegele and more. If the rumors are true that Foegele wants a change of scenery to get a bigger role, I think the Blues could offer that to him. It would also help the Blues save a good amount of money, as there is no way on planet Earth that Warren Foegele gets anything close to Tarasenko’s money.

Adding in a 2nd rounder or two could also get this trade decently close. Another piece would probably have to be included, though, and since the Blues don’t have the strongest prospect system, they’d probably happily accept a mid-tier prospect or two to help the trade value get where it needs to be.

This is where it gets interesting, as many people believe that prospect Jack Drury (signed just a few days ago) is closer to making the NHL than we think. So far, he is the only prospect the Carolina Hurricanes have signed to have media availability. He probably steps into competition with Ryan Suzuki, Jamieson Rees, Steven Lorentz and Morgan Geekie for that 4th line center spot next year.

So, maybe the Carolina Hurricanes think about throwing in a prospect such as David Cotton; someone who is close to making the NHL but is stuck behind a lot of talent, along with Warren Foegele and 2022/2023 2nd round draft picks could maybe work for someone whose value isn’t at his full potential and has some relatively serious injury concerns.

I am a huge fan of Vladimir Tarasenko; if the surgeon’s opinions are true, then he could be right back to full strength this upcoming season. With the Carolina Hurricanes looking for a top 6 or top 9 winger, someone like Tarasenko could be a perfect match. If Tarasenko becomes the player he has been in the past, this team can take a huge step heading into next year.

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