Last Wednesday (July 7), it was confirmed that the St. Louis Blues’ star winger Vladimir Tarasenko requested a trade from the team. The announcement comes just two seasons removed from the Blues’ memorable run to the Stanley Cup. Tarasenko has shown his ability over the years, and many teams will pursue him on the trade market.
The Columbus Blue Jackets, however, should not be one of those teams. They do not sit in a good position to make a trade for him. This column will analyze and discuss the reasons why Columbus should not go for Tarasenko this offseason.
Tarasenko’s Health and Age Is a Worry
There are many factors to why Columbus should not attempt a trade for Tarasenko, but no factor is bigger than the forward’s health and age. In the past two seasons, Tarasenko has only played 34 games due to a nagging shoulder injury that required multiple surgeries. In that time, he recorded just 24 points. To make matters more questionable, he turns 30 in December this season.
When healthy, Tarasenko is a great player, but there is no guarantee that he will stay healthy. With major questions about his health and age, it is not a risk the Blue Jackets should take.
The Blue Jackets Have More Pressing Needs
The second reason the Blue Jackets should not pursue this trade is that they have more important needs than another winger.
Columbus has no lack of skilled wingers. Oliver Bjorkstrand, Cam Atkinson, and Patrik Laine are all examples. Those three players have combined for 850 career points. Also, Bjorkstrand was 10th in scoring amongst right wings in the NHL last season with 44 points. They will also add players like Yegor Chinakhov to the wing, who will be in Columbus next season after signing an entry-level contract.
The Blue Jackets struggled offensively last season due to their lack of a top-line center. Columbus would be much better off using the assets they are willing to offload on the trade market to find a center with their depth on the wing.
The Blues’ Asking Price
The last reason Columbus needs to avoid the Tarasenko trade is the Blues’ asking price. St. Louis will be looking for a team to take on his full $7.5 million cap hit and either a good roster player or a draft pick and prospect. That price may not seem too high, but for the position the Blue Jackets are in, it is.
Any roster player who is of value to trade for the franchise needs to be used to fill the center position needs (mentioned above), not to add another winger. Prospects are most likely off-limits as well. The Blue Jackets are also supposedly entering a rebuild, and in that case, they will hold onto younger players and prospects. It is unlikely they would use any prospects to add a player approaching the upper end of 30.
The Blue Jackets cannot afford this trade if they want to address their more glaring issues. I would expect them to use any tradable roster players (such as Seth Jones) and extra draft picks to find a center on the trade market and to keep their prospects.
The Blue Jackets Need to Avoid This Trade
With 442 points in 531 career NHL games, there is no doubt that Tarasenko is a great player and offensive weapon. Add his Stanley Cup, and he also brings a lot of playoff experience.
Many teams will pursue him, and if they are in the position, they should. However, based on Tarasenko’s health, age, and where the Blue Jackets sit this offseason, this trade doesn’t make sense for Columbus, and it is not a risk they should take during a rebuild.
Cody Chalfan is currently a journalism major at the Ohio State University who grew up in Columbus and loves hockey, especially the Blue Jackets. He is disabled, therefore he is a major advocate for the NHL’s Hockey is for Everyone movement. A piece he wrote focusing on the Blue Jackets’ work on expanding the sport into the local special needs community can be found here. Cody can be contacted via Twitter (@cachalfan) direct message for comments, constructive criticism, or story ideas.