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Senators Trade Star Russian Winger Vladimir Tarasenko to the Florida Panthers

OTTAWA, CANADA - NOVEMBER 24: Vladimir Tarasenko #91 of the Ottawa Senators skates during warmups prior to the game against the New York Islanders at Canadian Tire Centre on November 24, 2023 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. The New York Islanders defeated the Ottawa Senators 5-3. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

The Ottawa Senators traded winger Vladimir Tarasenko to the Florida Panthers on Wednesday and a lot of local NHL fans aren’t happy with what Ottawa got in return.

The Senators received two mid-round picks, a 2024 fourth-rounder (which becomes a 2026 third-rounder if the Panthers win the Cup) and a 2025 third-round pick. Ottawa also retains 50% of what’s left on Tarasenko’s deal this season.

At a glance, that does seem pretty light for a six-time 30 goal scorer, who’s on pace for a 59 point season – especially when you’re retaining 50 percent of what’s left on his contract. Most fans figured that since St. Louis ended up with a first rounder at last year’s deadline for Tarasenko, maybe the Sens could too.

But those situations couldn’t be more different.

At first, GM Steve Staios took some pretty heavy criticism on social media for not getting more in the deal, his very first as an NHL general manager.

But the market for Tarasenko was extremely small. Not because other NHL teams don’t value Tarasenko. The market was small because of the no-trade clause former GM Pierre Dorion gave him last summer. To make any deal today, the Senators needed Tarasenko’s blessing. He was calling the shots, not Staios. 

So the trade market was tiny, believed to be as small as one team – the Florida Panthers. Tarasenko’s family lives in the Fort Lauderdale area and that’s the place he wanted to go. Failing that, he was happy to stay and finish the year in Ottawa. If that happened, the Sens would have received nothing.

Since Tarasenko only had eyes for Florida, he and the Panthers had Staios over a barrel. His choice was pretty simple: take what he can get, or get nothing but a few more meaningless games with Tarasenko before he walks into free agency.

Could Staios have rejected the offer, waited 48 more hours until the deadline, and put pressure on Tarasenko to open up his list to other contending teams? Staios was pretty clear today with his answer to that.

“I won’t get into the details of it, but the answer to that is unequivocally no,” Staios told the media. “I think that we exhausted all the options. We felt comfortable with where we were at, and that was the maximum value in that deal. And it also allows us some time to look at some other things now.”

With the NHL trade deadline set for Friday afternoon (March 8), that’s a strong hint from Staios that he may not be done.

Was there any real discussion about re-signing Tarasenko? It didn’t sound like it.

“I won’t get into all the discussions with the player and the agent,” Staios said. “But certainly, we really liked Vladdy. We liked what he brought to our group. But as time went on, this was the outcome.”

Tarasenko held all the cards and his exit was destined to be unpopular no matter what. He now gets a chance at another Stanley Cup and be close to his family. The Senators are just glad to have something instead of nothing.  

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