ST. LOUIS — Vladimir Tarasenko could remain with the St. Louis Blues despite the forward’s request to be traded, general manager Doug Armstrong said Thursday.
“Oh no, I see there’s certainly an outlook where I envision him putting on the jersey again,” Armstrong. “There’s many players in the NHL that have requested trades. You always try and keep it below the surface. But our responsibility is to do what’s best for the St. Louis Blues, and if it means that he comes back and plays for us, that’s the outlook that it has, but my responsibility is to the franchise and to do what’s best for the Blues and hopefully best for ‘Vladi’.”
Armstrong confirmed Tarasenko’s request for a trade came through his agent, Paul Theofanous, two days after the completion of the season on May 25 after the Blues were swept by the Colorado Avalanche in the best-of-7 Stanley Cup First Round.
Tarasenko has played 34 regular-season games the past two seasons due to a dislocated left shoulder that has required three surgeries since the end of the 2017-18 season. He played 24 games this season and scored 14 points (four goals, 10 assists), and scored two goals in the playoffs.
There have been reports of the reasons of why the 29-year-old requested a trade, one of which was Tarasenko allegedly had issues with the way his first two shoulder surgeries were performed by the Blues medical staff. Armstrong refuted those reports.
“I’m not going to get into the nuances of the he-said, she-said things that have been reported,” Armstrong said. ‘A lot of the things that are coming out are so factually inaccurate, it’s shocking, but I’m not going to get into that.”
After his initial surgery in 2017, Tarasenko played 76 regular-season games in 2018-19 and 26 playoff games and helped lead the Blues to their first Stanley Cup championship. He was injured again Oct. 24, 2019, had surgery five days later and returned to play in four playoff games. Further evaluation confirmed the shoulder injury that required a third surgery Sept. 17, 2020 that left him out for the start of the 2020-21 season before making his season debut March 6 against the Los Angeles Kings.
“A couple days after the year ended, Paul called me and ‘Vladi’ had talked to him and felt it was best if we could try and find a different opportunity for him and for us,” Armstrong said. “I took that information. ‘Vladi’ obviously has a full no-trade clause. He gave me a list of teams that would be a preference, a destination for him.
“The way that I operate with no-trade clauses is I informed all the teams that ‘Vladi’ had requested a trade. I said that there’s a list of teams that he would prefer to go to, but if anyone has any ideas or some thoughts, I would work with them and take something to ‘Vladi’ and he would have the 100 percent opportunity to accept or reject that concept.”
Tarasenko has a full no-trade clause and two seasons remaining in an eight-year, $60 million contract (average annual value $7.5 million) he signed July 7, 2015, but he submitted a list of teams he’d be willing to waive it to go to, according to Armstrong. A trade was not consummated prior to the Blues having to turn in their protected list for the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft presented by Upper Deck, conducted Wednesday to stock the initial roster of the Seattle Kraken, who begin play next season.
The Kraken chose defenseman Vince Dunn instead of Tarasenko.
“I want to thank Paul. We were able to sort of keep it under the surface for 6-8 weeks,” Armstrong said. “It came out a couple weeks ago and it sort of grabbed a life of its own. Going into the expansion draft, I felt an understanding that ‘Vladi”s desire was to see if there was a different opportunity, that we would expose him, understanding that if he got claimed and traded, claimed in Seattle, it would give him the fresh start he was looking for and also free up some [NHL salary] cap space for us. The expansion went through and Seattle made the decision to go with Vince Dunn. As of today, ‘Vladi’ is a member of the Blues.”