Ever since Vladimir Tarasenko requested a trade away from the St. Louis Blues two seasons ago, he's always been linked to the NY Islanders. The former Blues sniper had full trade protection and was asked to submit a list of teams he would accept a trade to, a list that was revealed the Islanders were on. Two years later at the 2023 NHL Trade Deadline, that request was never rescinded and the Blues finally reached a deal with the NY Rangers, another team that was on Tarasenko's list he'd accept a trade to. Now, Tarasenko is headed to unrestricted free agency for the first time, and ESPN's Greg Wyshynski thinks Tarasenko could remain in the New York area, maybe not with the Rangers.
On the latest Jeff Marek Show, Marek asked Wyshynski his opinion on Tarasenko's future and if the Islanders would make sense:
“I think they do," Wyshynski answered. "You look at that series against Carolina. It was a really bad draw for the Islanders. The Islanders want to do what the Hurricanes did to the Islanders to other teams. It’s just that Carolina is the best at it. It was still a situation where they were scrapping and clawing and trying to eek out goals in the playoffs which has normally been their struggle. It’s a matter of getting finishers sometimes. Say what you will about Tarasenko and what he does or does not bring to a team, but the man can finish a play. Now you’ve got yourself (Bo) Horvat, you’ve got yourself (Mathew) Barzal, you’ve got guys who could certainly score themselves, but also set up chances for others and I think having more finishers on that roster is something Lou Lamoriello has chased and Tarasenko is definitely one of those guys.”
The NHL continues to evolve into a higher scoring league, yet, the Islanders continue to lack the ability to fill the net. This season, the Islanders struggled to eclipse three goals per game, scoring 2.95 per game in 2022-23. In the playoffs, although a shorter sample, it was even worse as they could only muster up 2.5 goals per game. Taking it a step further, the power play only connected at a 17.8% rate and was far wose in the postseason not converting at all. Come to think of it, it's a miracle the Islanders made the playoffs at all.
Heading into his age-32 season, Tarasenko scored 18 goals and 50 points in the 2022-23 season. His production took a dip from the season prior where he scored 34 goals, but the Blues weren't very great this season and scored at a bit of a higher clip post trade.
It'll take some cap gymnastics, but there's no question Lamoriello will be interested in Tarasenko and Tarasenko is likely interested at the idea of playing with Barzal. Tarasenko also stated he's open to returning to Broadway, so he'll have to make it to July 1st for it to even be possible. Regardless, the Islanders need more goals and Tarasenko could certainly provide them. It's certainly something to keep an eye on heading into the summer.