You know that feeling of being tempted by a good price? You wouldn’t necessarily want the item otherwise, but it seems like such a good deal that you’ll buy that Nordstrom Rack blazer that was never on your shopping list.
If reports and speculation on Blues right wing Vladimir Tarasenko are accurate, the Bruins might have that feeling these days.
It was reported last week that Tarasenko, who has two years left on his deal at a $7.5 million cap hit, had requested a trade. Monday, The Athletic’s Jeremy Rutherford and Corey Pronman reported the 29-year-old had given the Blues a list of 10 teams to which he’d accept a deal and that the Bruins were likely on it.
The hypothetical deal The Athletic presented was the Bruins’ 2021 first-round pick (20th overall) and center Trent Frederic for Tarasenko, with Rutherford writing “the Blues would make this deal yesterday.”
But would the Bruins? It’s tempting because the Bruins are not deep offensively, especially if they lose David Krejci and/or Taylor Hall. Even if those players return, trading for Tarasenko would give the Bruins All-Stars at all four wing spots on their top two lines. It would drop Craig Smith to the third line, seriously strengthening the Bruins’ depth, though it would likely prevent the team from having the cap space to address needs on defense and in goal.
They’d be giving up so little off their roster, though, and if the 29-year-old Tarasenko was the Tarasenko of 2014 through 2019, the B’s would be loaded in their top six.
That’s the risk, though. Tarasenko has had three shoulder surgeries. He’s played in just 34 regular season games over the last two seasons, scoring seven goals in the process.
If he were viewed as the guy who scored 30-plus in five straight seasons, the cost would be a lot more than a first-rounder and a fourth-liner. He’s relatively cheap because he’s a reclamation project.
If the Bruins want to load up and go all-out one last time for Patrice Bergeron, something resembling this trade (and trying to get the Blues to eat a couple million dollars of that cap hit) would be tempting. They’d have to trade either Jake DeBrusk or Nick Ritchie for help on defense and the absence of Frederic would leave a hole on their fourth line that could perhaps be patched by re-signing Sean Kuraly. Money would be tight, though.
It would also double down on the Bruins’ biggest issue: lack of prospects. Trading their first-round pick and one of their few promising young players would only make the cupboard more bare. Even if that’s a good price for Tarasenko, the Bruins aren’t particularly suited to give up the farm.
If the price on Tarasenko is this low, the Bruins should definitely call and see how they could massage this deal. Maybe change the first-rounder to a different pick and DeBrusk, or trade the first and hold onto Frederic. As is, though, I ultimately wouldn’t make that deal.