As he prepares to suit up for his fourth appearance at the NHL’s All-Star Weekend, veteran sniper Vladimir Tarasenko is well-aware the Florida festivities could be the final chapter of his time representing the St. Louis Blues.
Playing out his 11th season for the Blues — the only NHL club the 31-year-old’s ever known — Tarasenko finds himself midway through the final year of an eight-year, $60-million pact signed back in 2015. His name’s become a mainstay on the rumour mill, an exit nearly coming via the 2021 Expansion Draft, for which the Blues left Tarasenko available to be selected, only to see the Kraken pass and snag Vince Dunn instead.
And speaking with longtime Blues beat writer Jeremy Rutherford amid the All-Star festivities Thursday, Tarasenko said he has considered that this weekend’s All-Star Game could be his last go-round in a Blues sweater, that a trade is possible.
“Yes, obviously yes, because even Vladi don’t know the future of Vladi,” Tarasenko told Rutherford. “There is only one guy who knows more than me, and his name is [Blues GM] Doug Armstrong. I think that’s the guy who you should talk about my future (with) the Blues.”
Tarasenko also told Rutherford there have been no recent discussions with Armstrong regarding a new contract.
Joining the Blues as the club’s 16th-overall pick back in 2010, Tarasenko’s been a key cog in St. Louis’s offensive machine for the past decade, putting up a career-best 40 goals back in 2016, nearly reaching that mark on two other occasions, and topping 30 goals six times in total. He played a central role in the Blues’ run to the Cup in 2019, leading the team in scoring as they made their unexpected climb up the standings in the latter half of the campaign.
In 2021, Tarasenko requested a trade out of St. Louis — according to Rutherford, the request stemmed from the winger’s frustration with how his shoulder surgeries were managed by the Blues’ team doctors.
Despite the request, and his availability for the 2021 Expansion Draft, Tarasenko remained with the club, and put up a career-best offensive showing in 2021-22, potting 34 goals and 82 points in 75 games. He’s posted 10 goals and 29 points through 38 games so far in 2022-23.
Should the Blues elect to deal the winger by this season’s March 3 trade deadline, Tarasenko would have a fair amount of control over the potential swap. The final year of the winger’s deal, which carries a $7.5-million cap hit, includes a no-trade clause, allowing him final say on whether he’s willing to waive his clause and accept a move to a new destination.