ST. LOUIS — Ninety-one subliminally looms in The Lou.
As if to tease the Blues and Blues fans, Vladimir Tarasenko’s No. 91 pops up in this summer, be it as the temperature, the number of the Olive Metro bus route, new Cardinal Nolan Arenado’s birth year or, well, on 9/1, when the calendar flips to the month that signifies Blues camp starting.
Will No. 91 be on the ice?
Most people can’t believe he will be. How could he be? So much has happened, right? The accusations. The frustrations. The finger-pointing. (And who knows which finger!)
Even though the longtime Blues forward — heck, the legendary Blues forward (he’s fifth in goals scored) — has requested a trade, that doesn’t mean it’ll happen before camp. It might. It could. The Hurricanes? The Islanders? The Devils? The devil is in the details, though, as to which team makes the trade.
Or, more specifically, which team St. Louis trades him to.
It’s all about value. Vladimir’s value. The value of a haul. Weighing risk and reward.
If the Blues try to trade Tarasenko, the other team knows it isn’t getting “video-game Vladi,” the goal-scorer who famously graced the cover of EA Sports’ NHL 17. It’s getting a question mark in skates that could, possibly, form into an exclamation point.
Tarasenko, eight months younger than Arenado, was also born in ’91 — so No. 91 turns 30 in December. And he’s coming off his third shoulder surgery. Regardless of accusations about the success or failure of the previous surgeries, Tarasenko is still trying to return to top form, whatever 30-year-old Tarasenko top form is.
So if you’re to get him, what are you getting?