Tomorrow, the Seattle Kraken will partake in their inaugural expansion draft. Of all the players available to the team, two intriguing names stand out from the St. Louis Blues — Vladimir Tarasenko and Vince Dunn. Both are talented players in their own right, and both provide their share of pros and cons. But which player would make a bigger impact for the Kraken? Which serves as a bigger detriment for the St. Louis Blues?
Today, I’ll put myself in Seattle general manager Ron Francis’s shoes. If I’m the Kraken, who would I select from the Blues: Tarasenko or Dunn? What provides a better value to my team, and - more specifically - what are the Blues left with in return?
Option 1: Vladimir Tarasenko
Vladimir Tarasenko’s shoulder surgery and the resulting fallout with the Blues have left their relationship in an irreparable state. Whether the Kraken claim him or not, it’s safe to assume that Tarasenko will not play another game with the St. Louis Blues. Without a deal to be made in time, the Blues exposed Tarasenko to Seattle, offering him as an intriguing pickup for the new franchise.
Tarasenko is a premier top-line winger in the NHL. With one of the most lethal shots in the league, he’s been a force for the Blues for a decade, putting up 442 points in 531 games with the organization. He’s been a consistent 65-75 point player throughout his career and would immediately slot in on the Kraken’s top line. Andy Strickland of Bally Sports reported that, if the Kraken select Tarasenko, Seattle will not be his final destination. The Kraken could hypothetically choose Tarasenko and flip him for a treasure trove, offering to retain salary to maximize their return.
Tarasenko has now had three shoulder surgeries in his career. The thought of another injury hampering his career may be a deterrent for Seattle. This may also explain why Blues general manager Doug Armstrong was unable to complete a trade before the deadline. Players with injury histories like Tarasenko can give teams pause — especially when they’re expected to give up a lot in return. Additionally, Tarasenko has a no-trade clause, which means he would have to approve the trade before it occurs. This may limit Francis’s options if he decides to try and flip Tarasenko.
Option 2: Vince Dunn
Dunn is in an unusual situation in St. Louis. He’s a perfectly capable top-four defenseman, but he has yet to earn the trust of his coaches on the ice. He is slowly becoming the odd man out on the blueline. Despite this, Dunn is just 24-years-old and still has time to grow. Whether that’s in Seattle, St. Louis, or somewhere else will all depend on the draft. With that said, it wouldn’t be a shock to see Dunn don a different logo before the start of the season.
It’s hard to pass up on a young cost-controlled top-four defenseman. If the Kraken truly hope to build for the future, Dunn fits the perfect mold. He’s not going to provide you with the scoring that Tarasenko would, but can fill a need on the defense for years to come. At best, he’ll have a resurgence in his career, making St. Louis wish they would’ve kept him around. At worst, he’ll be an affordable asset the Kraken can flip during a trade deadline. It’s a win-win no matter how you look at it for Seattle.
On the other hand, what happens if Dunn’s missteps gradually grow? Choosing a potentially middling defenseman over a bona fide top-line winger would be a huge blow to the Kraken. His defensive hiccups and the fact that he couldn’t make a name for himself on the Blues’ blueline might be a red flag for Seattle. Unless Francis sees more certainty in Dunn than he does uncertainty through the draft, choosing him over Tarasenko doesn’t seem very prudent.
If I’m Ron Francis, I’m taking Tarasenko. Despite injuries and a no-trade clause, flipping Tarasenko for picks and players would be a significant help to the organization. Teams like the Philadelphia Flyers have already been linked to trading for Tarasenko. This is a no-brainer on Seattle’s part. Having said that, it’s in the best interest of St. Louis for the Kraken to select Dunn. If Dunn is selected, the Blues will have all summer to find a suitable trade partner for Tarasenko. They’re more likely to get a stronger return for Tarasenko than they are Dunn. Ultimately, it will come down to who Seattle chooses and what Doug Armstrong decides to do with the other player moving forward.
Unfortunately, the Blues will lose a top-four defenseman or a top-line winger during the expansion draft. At 7 PM CST this Wednesday, the Kraken will select one of Tarasenko or Dunn from the Blues.
No matter who is chosen, the Blues will need to revamp their roster if they hope to contend next season.