If you’ve noticed that it seems quiet on the Blues’ front, you’re not alone. If you’re curious as to why they’ve been so quiet, feel free to check out CapFriendly.
That’s not a lot of cap space, and the Blues have two moves to consider. The first one is, of course, getting restricted free agent Robert Thomas under contract. The second, since it’s been discussed how much both parties would like it, is getting unrestricted free agent Tyler Bozak signed.
Neither can be done right now thanks to the fact that the Blues have $1,531,151 in cap space for two players who are going to cost a combined (at least) twice that for this season. Where could the Blues free up that cap space? Where?
Back in late July, Doug Armstrong said that he could see Tarasenko being a Blue “for now.” It’s looking like he was right, and unfortunately it is preventing the Blues from wrapping up their post-season.
The situation has been protracted for so long that it’s become clear that Tarasenko isn’t commanding a good return from any of the teams on his trade list. Armstrong’s first job is to take care of the team, not to take care of Tarasenko. Granted, the fact that Armstrong is pursuing good faith trade options because Tarasenko requested him do so is a solid sign that yes, Armstrong is doing his best to help him out. He could’ve told Tarasenko a hard no, and that he would be traded on Armstrong’s terms and that’s that. But he didn’t.
Neither Armstrong nor Tarasenko are completely driving this bus, but Armstrong at least has the keys. If he doesn’t get a good return offer, he doesn’t trade Tarasenko. Tarasenko’s under contract for two more seasons, and if he wants out of St. Louis he’s going to actually have to prove that he still has value. He’s going to have to put forth a show-me season for other teams.
The downside to this reality is this: if Tarasenko doesn’t perform, Armstrong’s lowballed Thomas and let Bozak (or other free agents) walk. What if Tarasenko gets injured again, and Armstrong gets no return?
Armstrong has the ability to look like both the mad genius or the fool here. If any of the above situations plays out, it’s the latter. If Tarasenko bounces back and nets 30 goals again, it’s the former.
Most Blues fans will use their amazing power of hindsight to say that they knew what was going to happen all along, and that believed Armstrong was making the right call by keeping him, or making the biggest mistake in his career as a general manager.
Truth be told, we know what’s going to happen as best as Armstrong does. Uncertainty isn’t comfortable for fans, or for the team. Right now, the best we can do is hope that the resolution to this situation - whatever it might be - is beneficial to the Blues.