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Vladimir Tarasenko Situation Remains Murky; Are Islanders Still Interested?

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Vladimir Tarasenko, New York Islanders

NHL training camps are only a few weeks away and Vladimir Tarasenko is still a member of the St. Louis Blues. It seemed all but certain that the star forward would have been shipped out of town by now, but there seems to be the real chance that St. Louis opens camp with Tarasenko there.

Tarasenko had been linked to the New York Islanders for much of the offseason and as both teams remained quiet on the free agency market in the early days of the offseason, many speculated something had been in the works. Right now it’s hard to see that still being the case.

Vladimir Tarasenko is skating with his teammates in St. Louis, according to The Athletic’s Jeremy Rutherford, who also reported that the relationship between Tarasenko and St. Louis is not repairable.

There is still the belief in the midwest that Tarasenko will get traded by St. Louis and that could be in the form of a three-team trade. Andy Strickland reported that “there’s at least one team willing to retain a portion of Tarasenko’s salary.”

Could the Islanders be one of those teams?

At this juncture, it doesn’t appear that the Islanders are going to make a play for Vladimir Tarasenko considering they have a more pressing need on the blue line. The Islanders have not found anyone to take the place of Nick Leddy, who was traded over the summer to free up cap space.

In addition, there had been talk earlier in the summer of possibly including defenseman Scott Mayfield in a deal for Tarasenko, which would hinder the team’s defensive unit even more. Mayfield had his fair share of struggles during the regular season last year, but the Islanders don’t have the depth to absorb the loss of another important piece of their defense.

The Islanders also don’t have the room to fit Tarasenko on the roster. The Islanders are roughly $3.7 million over the salary cap right now, but can exceed the cap by $6 million once they place Johnny Boychuk on LTIR.

You just don’t know with Lou Lamoriello, so perhaps there still could be some last-minute wheeling and dealing done before the season or before training camp. However, it doesn’t seem to be the priority for the Islanders to add another forward.

Nor should it be.

The Islanders have two very capable goaltenders between the pipes, but they’ll need a solid core of defensemen in front of them. That means solving who replaces Nick Leddy before trying to make a deal for Vladimir Tarasenko.