With the all-star break about to conclude and the NHL Trade Deadline lower than a month away, rumor season is about to kick into excessive gear. The New Jersey Devils have already had their identify connected to scoring wingers corresponding to Timo Meier and Brock Boeser. And in an article on Jan. 27 with Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic, common supervisor Tom Fitzgerald acknowledged he’s available in the market for a top-six winger, particularly one with time period (From “LeBrun: Devils ‘willing to give’ to get at the trade deadline — for the right player” – The Athletic, 1/27/2023).
However, issues don’t all the time work out the best way you need. The Devils received’t quit their finest belongings for a rental. That a lot is evident. But one participant they’ve pursued prior to now is St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko, who could be a rental at this deadline. On the Feb. 3 episode of 32 Thoughts: The Podcast, Elliotte Friedman talked about he may see all three New York City space groups among the many suitors for Tarasenko. He’d be a match for what the Devils want up entrance, however a commerce for him might not be so easy.
Tarasenko Still Has Offensive Value
The Devils’ pursuit of Tarasenko goes again to July 2021, when he first requested a trade from the Blues. The cause for the request was his displeasure with how the Blues dealt with his a number of shoulder surgical procedures (three, to be actual). At the time, The Athletic reported the Devils had been one of many groups all in favour of Tarasenko (From “Blues sign Brandon Saad: What it means for the forward lineup and how it could spark a Vladimir Tarasenko trade” – The Athletic, 7/29/2021).
Though the Devils by no means ended up with him, their pursuit of Tarasenko didn’t cease. On the Jan. 27 episode of 32 Thoughts, Friedman reported that if the Blues acquired Matthew Tkachuk over the summer season, Tarasenko may’ve ended up with the Devils. It ended up being moot since Tkachuk acquired dealt to the Florida Panthers, however Friedman reiterated the Blues and Devils mentioned it.
It’s apparent Fitzgerald and the Devils like Tarasenko. He’s not the elite offensive participant he was earlier than the shoulder surgical procedures, however he nonetheless has one thing to supply scoring-wise. He has ten targets and 29 factors in 38 video games popping out of the all-star break — a tempo of twenty-two targets and 63 factors over 82 video games.
That’s fairly strong, contemplating the Blues are one of many weaker groups within the NHL this season, however his underlying numbers are a combined bag. His defensive sport is virtually non-existent at this level; his even-strength protection has been value an anticipated targets above substitute (xGAR) of minus-3.6. That may very well be the product of enjoying on one of many worst defensive groups within the league. Nonetheless, it’s a priority. Because even when staff impacts are enjoying a task, it’s clear his defensive sport is problematic.
However, Tarasenko nonetheless has constructive worth offensively. His even-strength offense has been value an xGAR of three.2, practically matching his precise GAR of three.5. His five-on-five scoring has been strong, as he’s averaging 1.85 factors per 60 minutes. And it’s value noting that his 9.7 taking pictures share is a bit under his profession 12.7 mark. His 9.38 taking pictures share at five-on-five is the bottom of his profession, so his taking pictures luck ought to regress positively.
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As a rental, Tarasenko is sensible for the Devils. However, it relies on what the price will probably be. And that’s the place issues get a bit sophisticated making an attempt to determine what Fitzgerald must quit so as to add him to the roster.
Tarasenko Controls Where He Goes
No-trade clauses could make dealing a participant tough. Some solely have a five-team no-trade listing, whereas some have ten or extra groups on their no-trade listing. In Tarasenko’s case, he has a full NTC, that means he has nearly the entire management over the place his subsequent vacation spot will probably be if he will get dealt forward of the March 3 commerce deadline.
Let’s say Tarasenko tells Blues common supervisor Doug Armstrong he’ll solely play for the Devils, New York Rangers, New York Islanders and Vegas Golden Knights — the 4 groups Friedman talked about as potential locations — that *ought to* knock down his commerce worth a bit.
The first main commerce of this season was the New York Islanders acquiring Bo Horvat from the Vancouver Canucks. The Canucks acquired a conditional 2023 first-round decide, Aatu Raty — the Islanders’ high prospect — and Anthony Beauvillier. This was for a participant in Horvat who’s within the midst of a profession season and is on tempo to complete with 52 targets and 90 factors.
But given the scenario, Horvat might be not the precise baseline. One attention-grabbing commerce comparable could be when the Buffalo Sabres dealt Taylor Hall through the COVID-shortened 2020-21 marketing campaign. Hall signed a one-year deal value $8 million with the Sabres that got here with a full no-move clause. That NMC turned out to be fairly influential in what the Sabres received for Hall — a 2021 second-round decide and Anders Bjork from the Boston Bruins. Hall did battle a bit that season, nevertheless it’s additionally as a result of he shot simply above two %. The actuality is that NMC restricted what the Sabres may get for him.
Tarasenko and Hall’s conditions aren’t an apples-to-apples comparability since Tarasenko has spent his entire profession with the Blues, however each gamers having both a full NTC or NMC is a notable similarity. Does this imply the Blues will obtain an analogous return the Sabres did for Hall? It’s extra possible a Tarasenko commerce appears nearer to that than what the Islanders gave up for Horvat.
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That would imply the Devils giving up a second-round decide and a fourth-liner like Jesper Boqvist or a mid-level prospect like Graeme Clarke. But all of it relies on how intensive Tarasenko’s NTC is. If he limits the Blues to solely three or 4 groups the place he’ll settle for a commerce, a deal may look just like what the Sabres acquired for Hall. If so, that’s once I may see Fitzgerald and the Devils concentrating on a rental. It may assist them win a collection or two within the playoffs with out mortgaging any important future belongings that can damage them in the long term.
Making Tarasenko’s Cap Hit Work
The second challenge right here is Tarasenko’s $7.5 million cap hit. As of this writing, the Devils challenge to have $2,042,500 in deadline cap house. That means 1) they’ll want the Blues to retain a few of Tarasenko’s wage. 2) the Devils might want to clear cash of their very own. The easiest method could be to incorporate Andreas Johnsson’s buried cap hit of $2.275 million within the deal.
The Blues are tight on cap house themselves, but when they’re planning to maneuver Tarasenko, Ryan O’Reilly and a few different gamers forward of the commerce deadline, they’ll be capable to take again some cash like Johnsson. That means the Devils could need to sweeten the pot a bit by both upping the draft decide or together with one of many higher prospects of their system, and I’m unsure that’s a spot they need to go for a rental.
Unless…the Devils have plans to re-sign Tarasenko past this season, however that’s a dangerous proposition. At 31 years outdated, it doesn’t look like he’s the participant he was once, although he nonetheless has one thing to supply offensively. Perhaps a change of surroundings would make a distinction, however re-signing him to a long-term deal has extra dangers than it doesn’t because it seems he’s declining:
It’s clear the Devils like Tarasenko, given how typically they’ve had their identify connected to him over the past couple of years. It all relies on price, and it’s arduous to gauge with out understanding what groups Tarasenko is keen to just accept a commerce to, given his full NTC. The Devils possible received’t quit their finest belongings for leases, however Tarasenko ought to come at a less expensive worth than different leases due to the complete NTC. Though he might not be their first or second alternative, he’d nonetheless be a web constructive and would give Jack Hughes a confirmed scorer on his wing, one thing that may very well be a difference-maker within the playoffs.
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Alex Chauvancy is a New Jersey Devils author for The Hockey Writers who has a penchant for superior stats, prospects, signings and trades. He beforehand wrote for Devils Army Blog, a New Jersey Devils fan weblog, from 2015-2017