3 teams that should offer sheet Vladimir Tarasenko
The St. Louis Blues have yet to sign Vladimir Tarasenko to a new contract, and while general manager Doug Armstrong appears determined to match any offer sheet his star receives from other clubs, several teams stand to benefit by forcing the Blues to match.
Since April, Armstrong has been saying the restricted free agent forward isn't going anywhere, and the Blues now have about $10 million in cap space to ensure that. But a few of the Blues' opponents can still take a shot at the 37-goal scorer and at the very least, control what St. Louis pays their blossoming superstar.
Here are three teams that should offer sheet Tarasenko:
Nashville has about $22 million in cap space for 2015-16, albeit with a pair of RFA 20-goal scorers of their own - Craig Smith and Colin Wilson - still unsigned. Both players are probably due light raises, but the Predators would still have room to offer sheet Tarasenko and give the Central Division champions a headache.
Sure, the Blues likely match, but why not push a divisional foe closer to the cap ceiling? If St. Louis lets Tarasenko go, the Predators get the 10th-best point producer in the NHL and immediately improve an offense ranked 14th in goals per game in 2014-15.
The worst case scenario for Nashville is they determine what the Blues give their leading scorer. Other than potentially drawing the ire of a division rival, the Predators don't have much to lose here.
New Jersey Devils
The Devils need scoring, and adding a player who tied Tyler Seguin for fifth in the league in goals would be a major coup for new GM Ray Shero.
New Jersey's 2.15 goals per game ranked third-worst in the NHL. Whether they end up with Tarasenko or not, it's a route that's worth exploring.
The Devils have about $20 million in cap room with a quartet of veteran UFAs (Michael Ryder, Martin Havlat, Steve Bernier, and Scott Gomez) and defenseman Bryce Salvador still unsigned.
The Coyotes should absolutely offer sheet Tarasenko, but whether they can is another story.
Arizona remains embroiled in a legal battle over its lease agreement at Gila River Arena, but the Coyotes are stockpiling prospects amid an uncertain future.
Max Domi, Anthony Duclair, and Dylan Strome are on the way, but the Coyotes could make a statement and accelerate their rebuild by going after Tarasenko. If it doesn't work, at least management shows fans that the club intends to compete amid ongoing relocation concerns.
The team has nearly $52 million in salary committed for 2015-16, and forward Mikkel Boedker is the only significant RFA the Coyotes have yet to sign.
Getting to the cap floor shouldn't be a problem, but Arizona could make a huge splash and give its fanbase renewed optimism by acquiring a new face of the franchise.