The story of the offseason for the St. Louis Blues was the reported trade request from its long-time star Vladimir Tarasenko. The two-time All-Star was even left unprotected in the expansion draft and could have been had for free for the Seattle Kraken, though the team decided to pass on the 29-year-old. Trade discussions for Tarasenko reportedly occurred with multiple teams throughout the summer, but ultimately, nothing materialized. Tarasenko, respectful to the organization he’s been with for ten seasons, showed up to training camp and has been nothing but the ultimate professional early on this season.
With questions surrounding his health, Tarasenko has put all of the off-ice uncertainty aside and has netted three goals and three assists through the first five games of the season, including a highlight-reel goal against the Los Angeles Kings that reminded Blues fans just how good this guy is when he’s at the top of his game.
Staying in St. Louis is a chance to cement a legacy
A top prospect out of Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League, Tarasenko turned professional at the age of sixteen with HC Sibir. Once he reached NHL draft eligibility at eighteen, he was drafted in the 1st round (16th overall) by the Blues in the 2010 entry draft. He remained in Russia continuing to play for Sibir before moving to the Russian giant SKA St. Petersburg. After the 2012-13 NHL lockout ended, Tarasenko made his move to the NHL and made that move in style, scoring two goals against the Detroit Red Wings on opening night in St. Louis. From there, Tarasenko took off to become the Blues’ most consistent goal-scorer since the days of Brett Hull.
From 2014-15 to 2018-19, Tarasenko scored at least thirty goals every season, peaking with forty goals in 2015-16. Beyond the numbers, Tarasenko gave the Blues a superstar that people immediately thought of when they think about the Blues. Before he arrived, the Blues were a team on the rise that was getting things done collectively. While players like David Backes and T.J. Oshie were good players in St. Louis, neither were on the level that Tarasenko reached almost immediately upon entering the league.
One thing Tarasenko was able to accomplish in St. Louis that Hull or any other club legend before he could do was bringing the Blues a Stanley Cup. That feet alone makes Tarasenko one of the greatest Blues of all time. With the team off to a hot start and looking like a legitimate contender to win the Stanley Cup in 2022, Tarasenko staying in St. Louis and potentially winning another championship gives him the chance to cement his legacy as one of the top players of his era and guaranteeing that his number 91 sweater will hang in the rafters in St. Louis.
It’s clear that the love is still there with Blues fans
After being named the first star of the game in the Blues’ win over the Kings on Monday night, Tarasenko was brought out for an interview with television analyst Darren Pang. The two had to wait for their interview to start as the crowd at Enterprise Center serenaded the winger with a “Vladi” chant. Visibly emotional from the love he received from the fans, Tarasenko went on to praise the fanbase for all of their support over the years. While that could sound like a tearful goodbye, it could also signal the end of what may have been an overblown “controversy” that Tarasenko wanted out in St. Louis.
At this time, there’s been no indication from the team nor Tarasenko himself that he is definitely staying or going. With the team looking to go on another run, we could see trade talks at least halt until after the season, as trading away a player of his caliber will only hurt their Stanley Cup chances. Conventional wisdom also says that if the situation was really that severe, a trade would have been made already. We’ll see as the season progresses how the Tarasenko saga ends but from the perspective of Blues fans, the best course of action is no action at all.
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