Flames Trade Targets: Vladimir Tarasenko & Vince Dunn

St. Louis will reportedly be shopping both Tarasenko and Dunn this summer. Is that something the Flames should look into?

Some bits of news out of St. Louis this week! The Athletic’s Jeremy Rutherford reported that the Blues intend to shop sniper Vladimir Tarasenko this summer. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman also added to the fire by reporting on the 31 Thoughts Podcast that Vince Dunn’s name has again appeared in trade talks recently.

Those are two very intriguing names, so let’s get into some background and metrics on the two before I talk about a potential fit with the Flames.

Starting with Vladimir Tarasenko. Some who haven’t been following Tarasenko over the last couple of years might be wondering, why is St. Louis shopping him? Isn’t he the best player on the Blues?

Well, saying it has been a tough few years for the 6’0, 225 lbs forward is an understatement.

After potting 68 points in 76 games on the cup-winning 2018-2019 season Blues, Tarasenko only got into 10 games last year. He did put up 10 points in those 10 games, however. This past season, Tarasenko only got into 24 games of action, potting 14 points.

Tarasenko’s left shoulder seems to be the area of concern, as he had surgery on it during the 2017-2018 season, then he dislocated it in the 2019 playoffs. Last year, on October 24th, 2019, he reinjured his left shoulder again and underwent surgery which kept him out for six months. Tarasenko finally made his 2020-2021 regular-season debut on March 6th, 2021.

With that injury background, it makes sense why St. Louis would want to part with Tarasenko and his 7.5 million cap hit for two more seasons. Tarasenko also has a NTC included with his deal, so he would have a say in the place he lands if St. Louis does intend to deal him.

I have a feeling some teams will be interested in taking the gamble on Tarasenko, as he is a lethal goal scorer when healthy. To prove just how good of an offensive threat he can be, look at his 2016-2017 season, where he has among the 96th percentile for offense. Visuals are courtesy of Evolving-Hockey.com.

However, over his last three injury-riddled seasons, Tarasenko only ranks at 41 overall, which isn’t exactly great for a player making 7.5 million a year.

Why do I mention Tarasenko as a potential trade target for the Flames? For a Flames team that underachieved this year due to the lack of a top 6 RW, the opportunity to buy low and gamble on Tarasenko might intrigue them. Tarasenko fits a lot of things that the Flames are looking for, a right-wing finisher with a heck of a shot, that can help spark the Flames first powerplay unit. It would be a massive risk, and Tarasenko does not exactly come cheap, but IF he can return to his lethal form and pot you 35-40 goals, it might be something worth looking into.

More on Tarasenko and a potential deal later, for now, let’s get into defencemen Vince Dunn.

Dunn is a very intriguing player among analytical models, as he was rated at 91 overall in 2018-2019, 95 (!) overall in 2019-2020, before his offense fell off a cliff this season and he only achieved a 53 overall:

Although Dunn was worse defensively, his point totals were actually better this year, as he put up 20 points in 43 games this year compared to 23 in 71 the year before. Dunn found himself scratched quite a bit this season, which is why he only appeared in 43 of the 56 games of this past shortened season. Those point totals are still far less than the season when he burst onto the scene by putting up 35 points in 78 games. Dunn is stellar offensively but struggles in his own end at times, which might be the reason why he found himself in the doghouse a bit with head coach Craig Berube.

The 6’0, 203 lbs Dunn is regarded as an offensive defenseman who is very mobile and willing to join the rush, while also being able to play both left and right side defense. In a system where puck possession is key like Darryl Sutter praised in his entrance interviews, Dunn could really thrive.

Dunn is a pending RFA coming off a deal that paid him 1.875 million and will be arbitration-eligible this off-season. Evolving-Hockey.com has predicted that Dunn’s next contract will be a two-year deal at a 3.144 million dollar AAV.

When Dunn was involved in trade rumours this past season, it was speculated that St. Louis was looking for a 1st round pick in exchange for Dunn. Since he wasn’t dealt last summer, it is fair to say that no one was interested at that price, and with the expansion draft coming up and the Blues likely losing Dunn for nothing, a deal involving the defenseman could happen sooner rather than later.

Why would he be a trade target for the Flames? Well, if Flames captain Mark Giordano is taken in the expansion draft, that opens up a roster spot on the left side of defense that Dunn could fill. With the Flames also never giving Oliver Kylington a firm chance on the right-side bottom pairing, Dunn could slip into that spot as well. Acquiring a defenseman that is comfortable playing both sides would give the Flames some options on the back-end.

Back to Tarasenko and what a potential deal could look like from the Flames to acquire both Tarasenko and Dunn:

I start off with Sean Monahan heading the other way. With the Blues using Schenn as a left-wing, and Tyler Bozak very likely to leave the Blues in free agency, a massive hole at center appears behind O'Reilly, and that is where Monahan comes in. After another year of mediocre play due to injuries, Monahan seems likely to be on the outs in Calgary and would make sense in this deal to negate the salary of bringing in Tarasenko.

Next, I include prospect Connor Zary to make up the difference between Monahan and Tarasenko. It would suck to trade Zary, but you are going to have to take some risks in this Tarasenko deal, and hope he can return to form.

For Dunn, I traded the St. Louis Blues defenseman Oliver Kylington and a 2021 2nd round draft pick. St. Louis was looking for a 1st rounder at last year’s deadline, so I think they would take a 2nd rounder and a young defenseman.

This is kind of two moves but one trade, so the entire deal would be:

Monahan, Zary, Kylington, and a 2021 2nd round pick for Tarasenko and Dunn.

That might seem like an underwhelming return for Tarasenko, who consistently put up 35-40 goals in past seasons, but due to the risks of his injuries over the past 3 years, and St Louis trying to clear cap space(they would clear around 3.25 million in this deal, assuming Dunn signs for around 3.144 million like Evolving-Hockey.com suggests), it might be something GM Doug Armstrong considers.

For argument’s sake, let’s predict that Mark Giordano is taken by Seattle in the expansion draft. If that’s the case, then bringing in Dunn would give you an option on the 2nd or 3rd pairing, such as:

Hanifin - Andersson, Dunn - Tanev, Valimaki - Mackey/FA signing.

While you take on extra salary in this deal, losing Giordano in the expansion draft negates the salary gain, and the Flames would have around 17.5 million remaining to fill out the rest of their roster.

It is all speculation on my part about the Flames potential interest in these two players, because who knows what direction GM Brad Treliving will go this off-season (rebuild, retool, all-in).

Just wanted to put this idea forward to get some discussion going. Would you look into acquiring Tarasenko and/or Dunn? Would it be worth the risk?

That is all for now, hope you enjoyed it!

Until next time, see ya!

-James Johnson