Thursday, July 22, 2021

Blues lose Dunn to Kraken in expansion draft; retain Tarasenko for now

Defenseman chosen by Seattle, the NHL's 32nd team set to begin play 
next season; Tarasenko expected to be traded with interest from multiple suitors

ST. LOUIS -- In the end, it was what we all expected.

It took some twists and turns, but when the selection was made by Seattle Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner, Vince Dunn was a member of the St. Louis Blues no more.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
The Blues lost defenseman Vince Dunn (pictured) to the Seattle Kraken
in the expansion draft in Wednesday.

Dunn, a 24-year-old defenseman, was chosen by the Seattle Kraken in the NHL Expansion Draft Wednesday night when the 32nd entry into the league filled their team with one player from each roster except the Vegas Golden Knights.

Until an actual protected/unprotected list was submitted by the Blues and revealed by the league last Sunday, Dunn was sure to be left unprotected and the most coveted asset off the Blues roster for the Kraken, who will play their first season in 2021-22, even with forward Vladimir Tarasenko also available for selection.

It was sure that the three defensemen the Blues would protect would be Colton Parayko, Justin Faulk and Torey Krug, leaving Dunn, a 2015 second-round pick who is a Stanley Cup champion (2018-19) and has played his entire four-year career with the Blues in 267 regular-season games (32 goals, 70 assists), including career-highs in goals (12), assists (23) and points (35) during the Cup run.

The recent Tarasenko news of him reportedly asking for a trade threw a wrinkle into all of this from the Blues' perspective. The Blues, who couldn't come up with a solution from a trade perspective before the expansion lists had to be submitted, were willing to expose Tarasenko, 29, and lose him for nothing. What it would have done, however, is rid them of $15 million in remaining salary over the final two seasons of his contract and a $7.5 million cap hit.

It was certainly enticing for the Kraken to go that avenue despite the risk of three shoulder surgeries since 2017 because there is a market, albeit limited since Tarasenko has a no-trade clause in his contract, for the right winger. But multiple sources said the price coming back Seattle's way if they were to pick Tarasenko and flip him elsewhere, to say, the Philadelphia Flyers, New York Islanders, Washington Capitals, Florida Panthers and New York Rangers, among others, according to multiple sources, was not worth it.

So Tarasenko, for how, remains a Blue. For how long, nobody at this point knows. Blues general manager Doug Armstrong will address the media at 10 a.m. Thursday to hopefully shed some light on some of these things, including the upcoming NHL Draft this weekend.
So in the end, the Blues lost Dunn, who has always had the raw ability to be a solid offensive, puck-moving defenseman who was in the top four for the Blues but since the return to play after COVID-19 hit the world last year, it's been an up-and-down time for Dunn, who can be a restricted free agent June 28, with the Blues.

As for Dunn, what it does is pulls a position of need off their defensive unit, which is now left with Krug as it top d-man from the left side, along with Marco Scandella, Jake Walman, Niko Mikkola and Tyler Tucker. Scott Perunovich, a 2020 Hobey Baker Award winner, is left-handed but is more experienced on the right.

The Blues are likely to be on the lookout for a free agent defenseman, someone with a resume of a bigger, stronger, physical type of player, and Jamie Oleksiak fit that bill, but the former Dallas Stars defenseman was chosen by the Kraken and signed a five-year contract worth $4.6 million per season on Wednesday. Former Minnesota Wild stalwart Ryan Suter, who along with Zach Parise were recently each bought out of the remaining four years of matching 13-year, $98 million contracts, is an option and a fit on this team, even at 36 years old. Suter averaged 22:11 of ice time last season, his lowest output since averaging 20:35 in 2007-08 with the Nashville Predators, but still has mileage left in the wheels even after 16 seasons.

It wasn't what Armstrong and the Blues wanted, to lose Dunn for nothing, but after failed attempts to trade the young defenseman and not getting the return they were looking for, the Blues felt they could afford to absorb the hit of losing Dunn in the expansion draft.

As for Tarasenko, now the onus falls back in the Blues to either A) work out a trade as quickly as possible to free up the cap space and target free agent options, including Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog, who the Blues will make a big, strong push for should he hit the open market.

The idea of a trade with the Calgary Flames regarding homegrown Matthew Tkachuk seems far-fetched at this point, but it can't be completely ruled out. Another name to keep your eyes and ears peeled to, according to the same sources, is Buffalo Sabres RFA Sam Reinhart, who the Blues could throw an offer sheet at or acquire via trade; Reinhart, 25, has scored 94 goals the past four seasons, including 25 last season. Sabres teammate Jack Eichel also seems like a fat-fetched notion for the Blues.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
The Blues retained Vladimir Tarasenko after the Seattle
Kraken did not chose the right winger in the expansion draft.

Armstrong doesn't necessarily need to make a knee-jerk reaction trade either. Tarasenko holds a no-trade and reportedly gave the Blues a list of teams he'd be willing to go to, but the Blues should only make a deal that benefits them, not just the player in question, and if that means waiting out the summer, or even taking it into the season, which wouldn't be ideal, all the cards should be on the table.

But for all parties involved, the quicker, the better, and that being said, once that $7.5 million cap hit and however much salary is shed from the payroll, the better, and the Blues can conduct business a week from today with a full idea in mind.

Stay tuned as this plays out as the summer progresses.

No comments:

Post a Comment