On Thursday, the New Jersey Devils acquired free agent winger Tomas Tatar. They signed the former Montreal Canadiens winger to a two-year $9 million deal ($4.5 million AAV). Great, what does this have to do with the New York Islanders, right?
Well, signing the veteran winger could effectively take the Devils out of the Tarasenko market. Meaning (1) the Islanders could have even less competition for the winger’s services and (2) the price should then come down even lower.
The shrinking market for New York Islanders trade target Vladimir Tarasenko
As of last week, The Athletic’s Jeremy Rutherford (subscription required) indicated that both the Devils and the Carolina Hurricanes were in on Tarasenko. According to The Fourth Period’s David Pagnotta, you could add the Rangers to that list as well.
So, as of yesterday, the teams – we believe to be in the hunt for Tarasenko – were the Devils, Hurricanes, Rangers, and Islanders. That list could very well drop to three teams with the Devils acquisition of Tatar.
Now, I say could because the Devils still have a ton of cap space after the Tatar deal. CapFriendly, believes the Devils have $14.74 million in space with ten forwards, seven defensemen, and three goalies signed. They have yet to sign RFA Hanne Kuokkanen, but I don’t imagine that’s going to cost much, even considering he had a good rookie season.
But after getting Tatar, I still think the Devils will be out on Tarasenko. Why all of a sudden pickup Tatar if he wasn’t a secondary option?
I have a hard time seeing the Hurricanes make it work. Sure they have $12 million in cap space but they still have to sign RFA Andrei Svechnikov to what should be a sizeable deal.
Of course, they’d certainly shed some salary in a trade, but will Tom Dundon greenlight a deal to bring in Tarasenko’s $9.5 million in salary this year?
The Rangers, just like the Hurricanes don’t have much cap space to work with. They might have $14.48 million on the cap, but after they sign Igor Shesterkin, that space likely drops to $9 million. But unlike Carolina, I don’t see the Rangers having a problem accommodating Tarasenko’s massive salary if they trade for him.
The acquisition of Tatar effectively puts the Devils out. Now add Carolina to the list of teams “out”. Which means the list of teams “in” is very small indeed.
With fewer teams in on Tarasenko, whose value is already low thanks to a lack of playing time (42 regular season and playoff games over the last two years), the Blues not protecting him in the expansion draft, three shoulder surgeries, Seattle opting not to draft him, and a well known falling out with the St Louis brass; the price might be dropping even more.