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Blues trade deadline plan dependent on Tarasenko, GM says

Evaluating market, monitoring forward's recovery from shoulder surgery

by Louie Korac / Independent Correspondent

ST. LOUIS -- Vladimir Tarasenko practiced with the St. Louis Blues again Wednesday and the injured forward's status could dictate how St. Louis approaches the 2020 NHL Trade Deadline on Monday, general manager Doug Armstrong said.

The forward, who has been skating regularly on his own and with other injured Blues skaters, practiced with the Blues for the third time in two weeks. His progress has been encouraging since dislocating his left shoulder against the Los Angeles Kings on Oct. 24.


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"We've had positive news on Vladimir Tarasenko," Armstrong said Tuesday after defenseman Marco Scandella was traded to the Blues by the Montreal Canadiens for a second-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft and a conditional fourth-round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft.

"He's training well, skating in our morning skates. There's no new update on a timeline, but things are moving positive in that fashion. With the addition of Marco, I would say we're going to assess the trade market between now and Monday, but with the [NHL salary cap] situation, with [long-term injured reserve for defenseman Jay Bouwmeester], with a lot of the math equation that goes in, any deal I would say going forward is going to be strictly a hockey trade, which are very rare this time of year."

Tarasenko had surgery Oct. 29 and the original recovery timeline was five months.

"That 5-6 month window takes us from early March to early April," Armstrong said. "The way he's training now, I've talked to him the last couple of days. He looks great, but again, we have to get the doctors to sign off on these things. I don't want to get the cart too in front of the horse. It's not like you're going to see him on Thursday or Sunday or anything like that. Just an update that he's doing well and progressing and hopefully whether it's early March, mid-March, end of March, early April, that will be our great acquisition for the forwards at the deadline."

The Blues could target a forward before the deadline, including Chris Kreider (New York Rangers), Andreas Athanasiou (Detroit Red Wings), Kyle Palmieri (New Jersey Devils), Mike Hoffman (Florida Panthers) or Josh Anderson (Columbus Blue Jackets). 

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St. Louis is tied with the Dallas Stars and one point in front of the Colorado Avalanche for first place in the Central Division. The Blues play the Arizona Coyotes at Enterprise Center on Thursday (8 p.m. ET; FS-MW, FS-A, FS-A PLUS, NHL.TV) after ending a five-game streak (0-3-2) with a 3-0 win against the Devils on Tuesday.

"Getting [Tarasenko] back, I think our forward group is going to be as stable and strong as it's been in the past here," Armstrong said. "We are talking about this daily with doctors. If we get information that he's not going to be available, then that changes everything, but you have to be cap-compliant with [Tarasenko] in the lineup, and with [Tarasenko] in the lineup, that gave us $200,000 from the day he got hurt. So it's not like we can go out and acquire someone and hope to get cap-compliant when the time arises. The trade deadline is past at that point. To put somebody in with a $7.5 million cap hit, it takes some maneuvering."

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