The Los Angeles Kings are expected to be one of the biggest players this offseason. TSN’s Darren Dreger believes that the team is specifically interested in acquiring two top-six forwards. This will be important for LA when it comes to meeting their goal of making the playoffs next season.
Recently, St. Louis Blues star forward Vladimir Tarasenko requested a trade from the team. The 29-year-old has gone through several injury issues relating to his shoulder, and it has been rumored that the mishandling of his injury may have been the cause of his request. While it might be a good idea to go after Tarasenko on the surface level, as he is a former 40-goal scorer, he is overall not the right target for the Kings.
The Kings Already Secured a Right Winger
The Kings have already begun their offseason plays, trading a 2021 second-round pick and a 2022 third-round pick to the Nashville Predators in exchange for Viktor Arvidsson. Like Tarasenko, Arvidsson plays the right wing and he can fill a first-line role.
While Tarasenko might appear to be the better player, specifically in terms of offensive production, their advanced stats say otherwise.
Comparing Tarasenko and Arvidsson
Tarasenko and Arvidsson had a very similar season in terms of point production. Tarasenko recorded four goals and 10 assists in 24 games, compared to the 10 goals and 15 assists in 50 games for Arvidsson. While Tarasenko has kept up in the points department, Arvidsson surpasses him in nearly every other category.
When it comes to possession metrics, Arvidsson put up a Corsi for percentage (CF%) of 53.51 percent this season. In comparison, Tarasenko showed very poor possession metrics, recording a CF% of 45.23 percent. Their expected goals for percentages (xGF%) tell a similar story. Arvidsson put up an xGF% of 53.96 percent this season, while Tarasenko showed an xGF% of 42.11 percent.
Arvidsson proves to be a better player than Tarasenko in terms of his overall offensive game, despite putting up fewer points per game this season. This is supported in their regularized adjusted plus/minus (RAPM) chart comparison over the 2020-21 season and over multiple seasons.
The most telling difference between Arvidsson and Tarasenko is their wins above replacement (WAR) — the contribution a player makes to his team — from this season. Arvidsson put up a wins above replacement per 60 rate (WAR/60) of 0.094. Tarasenko, on the other hand, took away wins from his team, putting up a WAR/60 of -0.005.
Tarasenko Should Not Be the Focus of the Kings’ Efforts
There are several reasons why the Kings should not go after Tarasenko. First and foremost, his recent injury issues have taken a significant toll on his play. If LA were to pursue him, it would be a gamble, as they would have to hope for a bounce-back season to justify his pay.
This brings me to my second issue with a Tarasenko deal: he is getting paid $7.5 million for the next two seasons. It’s hard to imagine that he would add enough to the team to warrant that salary, considering how he has performed as of late. When comparing his contract to the $4.25 million Arvidsson is getting paid, it simply doesn’t make sense.
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Putting aside the issues from the Kings’ point of view, LA might not even be a destination Tarasenko would want to be traded to. The team will likely not be Stanley Cup contenders until after the conclusion of his contract, and he wouldn’t be playing as large of a role as he would maybe like to due to the Arvidsson trade.
Even though the Kings have the cap space to trade for Tarasenko, he is not the right player to spend it on. With the amount of flexibility LA has, there are a plethora of other directions the team could go in that would likely yield better results.
Advanced Stats per Evolving-Hockey
Zackary Weiner is a high school student from New York City who covers the Los Angeles Kings here at The Hockey Writers. He is a lifelong hockey fan and player, and his previous experience includes writing articles about the NHL for various online publications. His articles cover a wide variety of topics that concern the Kings and he takes into account a range of viewpoints, making his articles a perfect read for anyone who wants to stay up to date on the team. Zackary is more than happy to get into a conversation with fellow Kings fans, so feel free to leave a comment below any of his articles like this one to let him know your opinion and what you want to see next. You can also listen to him talk about the team on Fantasy Hockey Life and The Hockey Writers Live.