At this point, it’s fair to assume that if there’s a big-name wing on the market, Bruins fans are going to want the Bruins to be interested.
It was the case with Taylor Hall last summer, and it appears to currently be the case with Vladimir Tarasenko.
Tarasenko reportedly finds himself in a situation not too different from Jack Eichel’s: unhappy with his team for the way it managed his injury and ready to skip town for new scenery.
On Monday, Jeremy Rutherford of The Athletic, who has been on top of the Tarasenko story from the beginning, published a piece saying that Tarasenko has submitted a ten-team “yes, I’ll go there” trade list.
One of the teams reportedly on the list? YOUR Boston Bruins.
It makes sense purely from a fantasy hockey lineup perspective: Tarasenko, a right wing, could be quite an option on a potential Hall-David Krejci-Tarasenko second line.
However, you also have to consider that while Tarasenko isn’t a Bruin right now, neither are those other two guys, as both need new deals.
Tarasenko has two years left on his current contract, which carries a cap hit of $7.5 million.
Would it be worth it to acquire Tarasenko?
It’s easy to get excited about Tarasenko as a Bruin, but it’s also important to keep recent history in mind.
While he played 102 games during the (never happened) 2019 season, the Russian winger has played just 42 games over the past two seasons combined.
It’s fair to assume that the nagging injury he’s upset about caused a dip in his production, he also had just 26 points in that span.
So...are you bringing in a fully healthy, ready to roll talent worth his cap hit, or a worn down, not-quite-the-same player with an inflated price tag?
No one can see the future, but the best guess would put Tarasenko somewhere in between: better than he has been, but nowhere near his peak of a few seasons ago.
If that’s the case, it’s a tough sell to give up assets to acquire that kind of player with that kind of cap hit.
What would Tarasenko cost?
The Blues certainly don’t have to trade him, but they also don’t have a ton of leverage.
They could test Tarasenko’s resolve and see if he’ll just refuse to show up to camp, but that could backfire: having the guy refuse to play isn’t going to inflate his value.
Tarasenko has a bit of leverage in that he can limit his potential destinations to ten teams, but he’d still only have a 10% chance ending up at his number-one spot.
My best guess would be that Tarasenko would be available for some combination of a first-round pick and mid-level prospect or a second-round pick and a high-end prospect.
In the aforementioned Athletic piece, they suggested a Trent Frederic and 2021 first-round pick package, which seems a little steep to me (Rutherford, for his part, said the Blues “would make [that] deal yesterday,” which tells you which team it favors).
If you made that deal a second-round pick and Frederic, that’s a different story (as long as St. Louis eats some of the salary).
As mentioned above, it’s easy to see why Bruins fans would want to see the team acquire Tarasenko: we’ve all been screaming about wings for Krejci for years, so if the team suddenly armed him with Hall and Tarasenko, that’d be quite a trio.
However, there’s no real guarantee that either (or both) of those two will be back, making Tarasenko even bigger gamble.
To me, if the Bruins are rolling the dice on a sizable trade this offseason, an legitimate piece on defense is more important than another wing.
Unless St. Louis is willing to take a cut-rate deal to get Tarasenko off the books, the B’s should spend their assets elsewhere.