With recent reports of St. Louis Blues’ Vladimir Tarasenko potentially being available for trade, according to Frank Seravalli, I believe that the Pittsburgh Penguins should take a chance on the Russian winger and push to make an acquisition, and here’s why.
Fits Into the Top-Six
One reason I think the Penguins should pursue Tarasenko is due to how perfectly he would slide into the top-six. He’s a left-handed shooter, and with Jason Zucker almost certainly on his way out, Tarasenko would find himself on a line with either Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin, and provide a once-elite scoring touch.
This past season was the worst of Tarasenko’s career. This may sound bad, but in his case, it is actually very good, as he has excuses due to a shortened COVID-19 season, along with coming off of surgery. He was limited to just 24 games due to his injury, in which he put up 4 goals and 14 points along with a 0.0 wins above replacement (WAR), showing that even in his “worst” season, he was not a bad player.
When healthy, Tarasenko has shown he is able to take over a game offensively, and along with his fellow countryman in Malkin, the sky would be the limit for the 29-year-old. His playstyle fits the Penguins’, and he would immediately make an impact on the team offensively.
Trade Value Is Lower Than Usual
Due to his recent injury history, I don’t believe Tarasenko’s trade value is even close to what it would normally be. I think the Penguins could send a roster player along with a prospect to the Blues and potentially get it done.
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For starters, I think the roster player would either be Zucker or Marcus Pettersson, as the Penguins would need to get rid of some money if they were to bring in Tarasenko. After this, I think a prospect like Nathan Legare or Pierre-Olivier Joseph could get it done.
Even if this isn’t the exact deal, his value won’t be much higher, and the Penguins need to capitalize on a cheap value superstar winger on the trade block, as it isn’t something you see every day. The risk is pretty high, but the potential reward is even higher.
Poised for an Offensive Rebound
As mentioned earlier, Tarasenko has dealt with injuries for the past two seasons, playing just 34 games in that span. Through this, he has been unable to get into a consistent rhythm, and therefore his production has suffered. I think if he stays healthy next season, he explodes offensively.
While Tarasenko may have to shift more into a play creator role rather than his usual finishing role as a sniper, I still think he can be very effective in the neutral and offensive zone, driving play and creating high-quality scoring chances.
Along with this, he would get first-unit power-play time on a stacked Penguins team, which would lead to a plethora of extra points from there. All in all, it’s obvious he is poised for an offensive rebound, and Pittsburgh may be the perfect fit for this scenario.
To finalize, I do not think it is likely that we see the Penguins bring in Tarasenko, as I don’t think Ron Hextall believes that’s what the team needs at the moment, but I do think it is worthwhile to look into it, see what the Blues are asking for, and try to see if Pittsburgh can bring him in.
PIT Penguins Writer THW. Instagram: puckempire. Formerly a Florida Panthers writer.