As the 2021 NHL Entry Draft rapidly approached, the NHL Trade market was buzzing with rumors and chatter.
The NHL trade value for disgruntled St. Louis Blues star winger Vladimir Tarasenko has been low. That would explain GM Doug Armstrong finally addressing the topic on Thursday and going into damage control.
One of the biggest needs so far on the current NHL trade market has been the bottom four defensemen that are durable and hard to play against. Teams have learned from the Tampa Bay Lightning and Washington Capitals that the depth of that gritty, playoff hockey-type defensemen are what you need in the always grueling Stanley Cup playoffs. The NHL’s newest team ironically stockpiled their blue line with those exact types of defensemen in the NHL Expansion Draft.
Years down the road, could we be looking back on the 2021 NHL Entry Draft as the draft that produced the next Pavel Datsyuk? One longtime NHL Amateur scout explains how in terms of a late-round steal, this could be one of the craziest drafts in recent memory.
All that in the latest ‘Off The Record‘
1. Teams ‘Very Wary’ Of Tarasenko
Based on conversations with two NHL Execs earlier in the week, the sudden 180 St. Louis Blues GM Doug Armstrong took on the Vladimir Tarasenko situation Thursday came as no surprise to this puck scribe.
“Vladi has to prepare like he’s coming back to St. Louis,” Armstrong told reporters Thursday. “He has to get ready to play. He is a 30-year-old. I’m sure he wants to play for a number of years in the NHL, and he has to come back and have a great season.
Armstrong was then asked if the bridges had been burned between Tarasenko and the Blues?
“Oh no,” Armstrong replied. I see there’s certainly an outlook where I envision him putting on the jersey again.”
While compiling intel for the third OTR topic this week, which you can read below, without being prompted, each exec brought up the Tarasenko NHL Trade Rumors. Let’s just say, their thoughts on the player and the situation indicated that the ask – believed to be a young promising top 6 forward or a young, puck-moving and physical top 4 d-man, plus a first-round pick – from Armstrong right now is much higher than how other teams view the player right now.
Off the record:
“I’ve heard nothing but bad things lately on his health and him as a player,” one NHL exec told OTR. “To ask all that for a guy who has played that little over the last two seasons and that has a cap hit ($7.5 million per for next two seasons) like that, I think Doug knew he wasn’t going to get that, and eventually would need to come down.”
Is Tarasenko hard to coach?
“Someone there told me he’s not the most coachable player,” the other NHL Exec told OTR. “When I say coachable, I guess I mean more manageable eh? Because that’s really what it’s about at this level, managing. There just seem to be plenty of red flags on this player. Teams are ‘very wary’ of him right now. All that being said, watch him get dealt at the draft! For that to happen though, the Blues need to change the narrative fast.”
2. Kraken Ready To Use Blue Line Depth On NHL Trade Market
Not that it was a huge secret, but the Seattle Kraken clearly stocked up on defensemen so they could flip some of them in an NHL trade market where every team seems to be shopping for bottom 4 help. The Kraken drafted 12 defensemen in the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft and on Thursday Boston Bruins GM Don Sweeney confirmed the obvious.
“There’s communication with Seattle and they’ve got a supply (of defensemen) there now, a ton of people, including ourselves, we want access too, and we’ll have to have some discussions there,” Sweeney told the media Thursday.
Well, Sweeney is not the only GM ringing up Ron Francis for defensemen and that will intensify even more throughout the weekend and into next week.
Off the record:
“You look at the style of defensemen he took and it’s clear he was reading the market not just trying to form a certain type of roster,” an NHL scout pointed out OTR Thursday. “As the last three Stanley Cup Champions have taught us, you need depth with those big, durable defensemen that can also push the pace a bit when needed. Those are the types of d-main Ron took. More of the former for sure but you get what I’m saying. Those are valuable trade chips now and at the deadline. If he can package some those with picks he can get some good value.”
3. ‘Someone Could Get The Next Datsyuk’
Drafted 171st overall by the Detroit Red Wings in the sixth round of the 1998 NHL Entry Draft, forward Pavel Datsyuk went on to have a hall of fame career and is widely viewed as one of the biggest NHL Draft steals in NHL history.
Thanks to the pandemic, every NHL team is entering the NHL Entry Draft tonight a bit blindfolded, especially when it comes to European players. Plenty of NHL teams cut back on their European and overall scouting departments the last offseason so when it came to ranking these players for the 2021 NHL Draft, video and word of mouth were really their only choices. That’s why one longtime NHL amateur scout believes this could be the ‘Draft of steals’
Off the record:
“Someone could get the next Datsyuk,” the scout told OTR earlier this week. “I’m telling you, some and maybe a few teams are going to stumble onto a pick that will be ranked way too low and he’ll turn into a superstar. That’s how crazy this draft may end up being. There are not a lot of boots on the ground in Europe this past year and then even here, you had some leagues shut down for most of the season. Look at the OHL. That’s going to be a crapshoot too I think. This could be one of those drafts we look back on and say ‘Wow! I can’t believe that guy went in the seventh round. I think this could be the draft of steals when we look back on it five, ten years down the line.”