According to Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Washington Capitals are interested in Vladimir Tarasenko.
Obviously, so are the GMs of 30 other teams, but there’s the matter of making a deal work for both teams. The Blues would more than likely expect a roster player returning that could make an impact. If that returning player isn’t an impact player, the Blues would then expect some pot-sweetners thrown into the mix to make a deal worthwhile.
Vladimir Tarasenko, on the other hand, would love an opportunity to play with Alexander Ovechkin (who is currently a UFA, but hell would freeze over before the Caps let him go). Look what playing with Ovie did for former Blue T.J. Oshie, after all. Just like any other trade, it matters less about how well the departing player will do with his new team, and more about how a team can fit a new deal under a flat cap along with figuring out where the newly acquired player(s) fit.
Some suggestions have been made that the Capitals are more than open to trading Evgeny Kuznetsov, and not only for Tarasenko. Kuznetsov, who had an incredible 2017-2018 season and post-season, has seen his production drop off through several off-ice scandals. He was suspended by the IIHF for four years and the NHL for three games due to a positive cocaine test in 2019. He was suspended last season for “disciplinary reasons.” Thanks to his refusal to follow Covid-19 protocols, he wound up on the NHL’s covid list twice, putting his teammates at risk.
It’s no shock why the Capitals are wanting to trade the center, but he’s not who the Blues will get for Tarasenko, and not just because of the very public difficulties with Kuznetsov. The first issue is that Kuznetsov is a center, and that’s the one spot that the Blues are fine.
The second issue is that Kuznetsov is a $7.8 cap hit for the next four seasons. With the league’s salary cap staying put at $81.5, it’s very unlikely that the Blues would have the financial space for him.
The Blues need help on the wing, or else they need help strengthening their defense. The Blues could get that in John Carlson, but trading their marquee defenseman to the Blues isn’t going to happen, even if the Caps get a very sweetened pot to go with Tarasenko. On the Blues’ end, the cap rears its ugly head again - Carlson’s cap hit is $8 million over five more years. His contract ends at age 36, and he will have a 10 team no-trade list starting next year.
The most production-focused forward that the Blues could target on the Caps would be T.J. Oshie, who has four years left on a contract with $5.75 million cap hit. He has also been very vocal about finishing his career with the Capitals and the team seems to be happy with his production.
The Caps, outside of their core unmovable players (and Kuznetsov) don’t have much to deal the Blues, and the Blues, outside of paying a huge price for an immovable object, wouldn’t be able to get much more from the Caps than their current problem child. Tarasenko and Ovechkin may have to wait until the Olympics to play on the same team.