Free Vladimir Tarasenko.
The star of the St. Louis Blues has some strong numbers on the year, but there have been long stretches where Tarasenko has been held in check. That’s mostly due to the fact Tarasenko has been surrounded by some mostly average talent for the bulk of the season and is left trying to do all of the heavy lifting.
Jori Lehtera has spent most of the year with Tarasenko and has only found 13 points in 40 games. That’s so incredibly bad it’s almost hard to comprehend. The Blues have needed a quality center for years now, but that need is becoming more and more apparent as Tarasenko continues to find little help on his line.
That’s a problem the Blues have recognized (though possibly too late) and they’re trying to figure out how to construct a winning formula around Tarasenko.
Via STLToday, Ken Hitchcock spoke about Tarasenko struggling to get chances because of the players around him.
“He’s not getting any chances. He’s not getting near enough chances. Something we’ve got to talk about. Not scoring is one thing, but he’s not getting any ‘Grade A’ chances, he’s not getting any quality chances, there’s no second chances. That’s something we’ve got to talk about how we construct things.”
So, it took Tarasenko not getting chances halfway through the year for the Blues to realize there’s a big problem? One glance at Blues fans on Twitter would have revealed that problem seasons ago.
Lehtera is overpaid and under performing and yet he continues to win time on Tarasenko’s line. Lehtera’s play has been so underwhelming that the only logical conclusion to make is that GM Doug Armstrong isn’t quite ready to admit he made a mistake with Lehtera’s contract and instead he continues to double down on the bad decision instead of actively trying to improve things.
The Blues are going to have to make a roster move. The talent around Tarasenko is far too thin to think the Blues can make a deep playoff run. The Blues have a ton of problems, but the one they could try to fix with almost guaranteed positive results involves giving Tarasenko more tools to work with.