Vladimir Tarasenko: A Perfect Fit For Montreal Canadiens

Vladimir Tarasenko could be the perfect interim scoring forward for the Canadiens as they await Ivan Demidov and Michael Hage.
Florida Panthers v Montreal Canadiens
Florida Panthers v Montreal Canadiens / Minas Panagiotakis/GettyImages

The rumor mill has been hot with speculation that the Montreal Canadiens will make a splash to acquire Martin Necas, Trevor Zegras, or Patrik Laine. The Canadiens would need to trade one of their high-upside defensemen to get one of these players, which could cost them. I've made my opinion clear about Necas and Zegras. They're talented offensive players, but leave me unsure of how they'd perform in a playoff setting. What if the Canadiens could sign a Stanley Cup-winning winger at a reduced price without giving away any assets? The opportunity is there with Vladimir Tarensko still available.

Vladimir Tarasenko has shown that he can step up when the game gets tougher during the postseason. He had 11 goals and six assists for the St. Louis Blues during their miraculous 2019 run. Then this season, he started with the Ottawa Senators before getting traded to the Florida Panthers and contributing to their Stanley Cup victory. The win gave Tarasenko two rings, which could be great to surround all the young players. Tarasenko may never contribute to the Canadiens Stanley Cup, as they are still a few years away. However, it would make alot more sense to sign Tarasenko in the interim until Owen Beck, Ivan Demidov, and Michael Hage are ready for full-time duty.

I don't see the rush in acquiring an offensive forward. The Canadiens have plenty of pieces that will be ready in a few years, the identical timeline for them to be contenders. The Canadiens should sign Tarasenko, reach the next step with the players they have, and give their young players some experience of playing in big games before Demidov, Hage, and Jacob Fowler are ready.

It sucks for Canadiens fans that they aren't a competitive team right now. The Habs finished dead last in the division for the third consecutive year, which is the first time in their history it has happened. It would be great for them to acquire some scoring talent through trade this season and make a run at the playoffs. However, it doesn't feel like Zegras, Necas, or Laine are the players to bring them from the basement to the penthouse. It also feels like a player like that will get pushed aside once their prospects make the jump.

Here's a sample lineup for three years from now:

  • Slafkovsky - Suzuki - Caufield
  • Demidov - Dach - Beck
  • Hage - Newhook - Roy

While it'd be great to have the depth to put one of these players on the fourth line, the Habs wouldn't be playing to their strengths with that kind of move. Any of their possible trade targets would look good in that top nine, but removing Kaiden Guhle, David Reinbacher, or Logan Mailloux from the defense corps to make that trade happen suddenly makes your defense look weaker.

  • Guhle - Reinbacher
  • Hutson - Barron
  • Xhekaj - Mailloux

It's a great-looking top-nine forward group and a top-six defense group. In this scenario, Tarasenko played for a few seasons before giving way to Beck or Roy to enter the top nine. The Canadiens saved all their defense depth, and don't forget they have Jacob Fowler and Sam Montembeault between the pipes.

The Canadiens then have players like Jake Evans, Florian Xhekaj, Luke Tuch, and Aatos Koivu to find their footing on the fourth line.