With an aging core group of players led by soon-to-be 36-year-old Patrice Bergeron, the Boston Bruins are staring dead ahead at their last chance for a legitimate chance to compete for the Stanley Cup. After loading up at last spring’s trade deadline before falling short in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, it appears the B’s are aiming for one more try this season while aiming to retain David Krejci, Taylor Hall and Tuukka Rask among others.
That made it interesting to hear from The Athletic’s Jeremy Rutherford this week that St. Louis Blues right wing sniper Vladimir Tarasenko has asked for a trade away from the Blues. The 29-year-old has been limited to 34 games over the last two seasons due to injury issues in St. Louis but was a “take it to the bank” lock for 30 goals and 70 points in the previous five seasons for the Blues.
Imagine a Boston Bruins team where David Pastrnak and Tarasenko were the top two wings on the right side, and the Bruins could potentially roll out a second line of Taylor Hall-David Krejci-Vladimir Tarasenko for next season?
Clearly there are hurdles including the $7.5 million cap hit due for the next couple of years and whether or not the Bruins are one of the 10 NHL destinations the Russian winger will accept a trade to this offseason. The usual suspects are in the initial discussions with a lot of mentions of New York being a potential destination spot for the prolific Russian winger.
But this is one offseason where cost and cap space shouldn’t be an issue for the Black and Gold with the B’s looking at $28 million in cap space, per PuckPedia, as mammoth deals for Krejci and Rask both come off the books.
Given Tarasenko’s injury issues and his public desire to be traded, the Blues aren’t likely to get top trade value for the Russian winger approaching 30 years old with his best years arguably behind him. With three shoulder surgeries in the last few seasons, there is absolutely risk involved with acquiring a player due $9.5 million in actual cap-irrelevant salary for the 2021-22 season before his salary drops to $5.5 million in the contract’s final year.
With a trade market that’s expected to have top young players like Seth Jones, Johnny Gaudreau and Jack Eichel available this summer as well, Taranseko won’t register as the top target available on the market.
That’s the encouraging news from a Bruins perspective.
Tarasenko won’t come cheap either, but he’s not the kind of player that’s going to require the Bruins to part with a prime, young NHL asset like David Pastrnak, Charlie McAvoy or Jeremy Swayman in order to make it happen. That’s what separates Tarasenko from a potential trade target like Eichel or Jones when kicking around theoretical trade proposals.
Would it be worth it for the Boston Bruins to deal a first round pick, Jake DeBrusk coming off a down season and perhaps even St. Louis hometown kid Trent Frederic in exchange for the once-great Tarasenko?
It’s certainly worth thinking about from a Boston Bruins perspective as they clearly need to improve with the back-to-back Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning still holding the crown in their Atlantic Division.
“I think the depth of the Islanders roster and their scoring ability showed up [in the second round] and we just didn’t get it done to the level that we needed to. Otherwise, we would [have been] still playing. So, we have to acknowledge the shortcomings, both at a player level and at a management level in terms of the roster composition,” said Boston Bruins GM Don Sweeney. “We have to target some areas and expect some improvement in some players that they would admit, and did admit, that they fell short in.
“We’ve been a very competitive team and we put ourselves in a position to compete at the Stanley Cup level. We’ve just fallen short. Obviously, we got to the ultimate level a few years ago. [We] had a really strong regular season, beat a very good team in Carolina a few years ago. [We] beat a very good team in Washington this year. We’ve just fallen short and haven’t performed at the same level in the next round. That’s what we want to do and do better.”
What would make it really interesting is if the Bruins can build any trade discussions into a bigger deal involving Tarasenko and left-shot defenseman Vince Dunn. Dunn has been linked to the Boston Bruins in the past and would be the “elusive left shot defenseman” that Boston Bruins President Cam Neely mentioned they’ve been searching for over the last few seasons. The 24-year-old Dunn had six goals and 20 points in 43 games along with a career-best 19:19 of ice time last season and would certainly make a nice puck-moving partner for Brandon Carlo on Boston’s middle “D” pairing.
It’s all fantasy hockey at this point, of course, until more details emerge about Tarasenko and a potential match with the Boston Bruins. But a marriage between Tarasenko and the Bruins is worth kicking around in a more realistic way than some of the other dazzling NHL names available on the trade market.