As the Islanders’ offseason rolls on (or starts up), it’s time to get into everyone’s favorite/not so favorite topic: trade speculation.
It’s been reported that St. Louis Blues sniper Vladimir Tarasenko has wanted out of the organization for a few weeks now, and when trade rumors surround any big name star, it’s difficult not to picture them one day playing for your favorite team. For Isles fans, that dream might become a reality. It’s been reported by both The Fourth Period’s David Pagnotta and Jeremy Rutherford, a Blues writer for The Athletic, that Isles g.m. Lou Lamoriello had been in contact with Blues general manager Doug Armstrong about a potential deal for the star Russian winger. It’s pretty tough to pinpoint exactly what Lamoriello has up his sleeve, but when two respected hockey journalists in Pagnotta and Rutherford report there’s smoke, there must be fire at some point.
So it’s confirmed that the Isles have kicked tires on Tarasenko… great! Well, not so fast.
Rutherford also mentioned that Anthony Beauvillier has been thrown around in trade rumors, including in a potential deal to St. Louis for Tarasenko. Here’s where the divide begins, and it begs the question: should the Islanders trade Beauvillier if it means acquiring a sniper like Tarasenko?
Ben Mandell (Contributor): No
There has been a lot of speculation surrounding the Islanders in this so far quiet start to free agency. The team has reportedly been linked to the St. Louis Blues and their all-star forward, Vladimir Tarasenko. The Blues’ winger wouldn’t come at a low cost to the Islanders, as he had five-straight 30-goal seasons before missing a majority of the last two seasons with injuries. There are questions about Tarasenko’s health, but St. Louis’ price is still believed to be high.
Beauvillier being the cost for Tarasenko shouldn’t even be on the table. Beauvillier has been one of the best forwards for the Isles the past two seasons and at times in the postseason, he carried the offense himself.
On top of his production, Beauvillier is a core piece in the Islanders locker room. He has always had chemistry with Mathew Barzal, both on and off the ice, and he has already proven that he slots in really nicely with Brock Nelson and Josh Bailey. They’ve been dubbed the “Killer B’s” for good reason.
What a shift by Anthony Beauvillier. What a finish by Brock Nelson! pic.twitter.com/bikqggUUUg
— Rob Taub (@RTaub_) June 8, 2021
Now, if Tarasenko is healthy and returns as a prolific goal-scorer this season, it would be worth it, but that is a big price to pay for an “if.” Tarasenko has only played in 34 games since winning the Stanley Cup in 2018-19 with the Blues.
The risk that comes with acquiring Tarasenko needs to be factored in. If Lamoriello dismantles the “Killer B’s”, it needs to come at the expense of a reliable goal-scorer, not a question mark.
I’m not saying that I wouldn’t want Tarasenko on my team, I think he could be a nice addition to the Isles lineup. But He absolutely can’t come at the expense of Anthony Beauvillier.
Carter Bentivenga (Contributor): Yes
For the record, I’m against the Isles trading Beauvillier at all, but let’s stir the pot a bit.
It’s no secret that the Isles lack an established pure goal scorer, a player that would put them over the top in terms of offensive production. Enter Tarasenko. I’ll get into the obvious first — and the reason most Isles fans would be against acquiring him — his injury history. Tarasenko has been limited to only 34 games over the past two seasons due to a string of shoulder surgeries, while scoring a combined total of seven goals and 24 points. With that said, don’t count your chickens before they hatch.
An interview with Dr. Peter Millett, a physician who performed Tarasenko’s most recent shoulder surgery around a year ago confirmed the forward’s shoulder is “rock solid”, and even stated that Tarasenko himself told him that it was “more stable and stronger than it has felt in a long while.” Millett also went on to say that he has “no doubt” Tarasenko will be fully ready for the 2021-22 season.
Saying a player is fully healthy can mean anything coming from the wrong source, but there aren’t many more reliable sources than the physician who performed the surgery himself. Outside of that, sure it’s a gamble for the Isles to acquire a player like Tarasenko (it’s a gamble whenever you make a trade), but this is a gamble the Isles should be wanting to make.
Put that 🚨 on!
— NHL (@NHL) March 28, 2021
From 2014-15 through 2018-19 (five seasons), Tarasenko hit the 30-goal plateau all five times, including a 40-goal campaign back in 2015-16. 30-40 goal scorers don’t grow on trees, and they definitely aren’t available for trade every day. With those offensive numbers, it’s hard to think of Tarasenko playing with one of the best playmaking and dynamic centers in the league in Mathew Barzal and not get excited about what the two of them could accomplish. In addition, it might not even take the Isles that much to acquire a player like Tarasenko, as crazy as it might sound.
The Blues exposed Tarasenko to the Seattle Kraken in the Expansion Draft, and even though the Kraken opted to take Vince Dunn (the main reason being cap flexibility), it signals that the Blues clearly don’t have a big price tag in terms of trade value attached. Especially if they were willing to expose him in a situation where they could’ve lost him for nothing. In fact, Rutherford was informed by a source that Tarasenko’s value was going down, and that the Blues were asking for too much.
Whether that package includes a guy like Beauvillier has yet to be seen, but it’s something to keep at the back of your mind.
Tarasenko knows what it takes to win in the playoffs. He scored 11 goals (one behind Jaden Schwartz’s 12 to lead the team) and 17 points (fourth on the team) in 26 games for the Blues en route to their first Stanley Cup victory in 2019, which would also make him the only active player on the team to have a ring.
Follow Ben and Carter on Twitter at @BenMandell55, @cbentivenga14