Tarasenko Arrives in St. Louis

Vladimir Tarasenko will be introduced to the St. Louis media on Thursday

Monday, 09.03.2012 / 10:50 AM / St Louis Blues - Features
By Chris Pinkert  - St. Louis Blues
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Tarasenko Arrives in St. Louis
Vladimir Tarasenko, a first-round pick of the Blues in 2010, has left Russia\'s KHL and is here in St. Louis, ready to debut in the NHL.


The wait is over.

Vladimir Tarasenko has arrived.

The 20-year-old Russian forward landed at Lambert Airport in St. Louis at approximately 4:30 p.m. last Friday, and his arrival puts an end to more than two years of anticipation.

It was way back in June 2010 when Blues fans first learned his name. Back then, he was an 18-year-old prospect the Blues selected with a first-round pick (16th overall) at the NHL Draft in Los Angeles. According to NHL Central Scouting, Tarasenko was the second-ranked European skater, and some experts predicted he’d be a Top-5 pick. It didn’t end up that way, though. The lure of big-time earning potential in Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League has scared many-o'-NHL scouts away drafting Russian prospects as of late.

But the Blues knew of Tarasenko’s great potential. After already selecting Jaden Schwartz with their first-round pick (14th overall) that summer, GM Doug Armstrong made a swift trade, sending defenseman David Rundblad (the Blues' first-round pick a year earlier) to Ottawa for the opportunity to select the talented right-winger.

And now, three months after agreeing to an entry-level deal with the Blues in June, Tarasenko’s wheels have landed on American soil and Armstrong’s gamble is about to pay off.

They say good things are worth the wait. In Tarasenko's case, that's probably especially true. You see, before he agreed to come to St. Louis, the 6-foot, 215-pound forward was playing in Russia’s top professional league. Despite his youth, he posted 52 goals and 48 assists (100 points) in 176 KHL games. He’s big, he’s physical and he’s got quite an offensive touch, meaning the Blues can certainly expect him to be a major player in their offense as soon as this season.

“The type of player that we’re hoping to get, he’s just a very strong, very determined player,” Armstrong told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch recently. “He was the captain of (Russia’s 2011 gold medal) world junior championship team, so he’s got character…he’s got a 200-foot game, he can score goals, he’s got a vibrant personality, too.

“So I think our fans are going to see someone that can play the right side, something that we’re going to give a great opportunity to play with on our team. We’re excited to have a player of his caliber come to our team at this age.”

Armstrong did say the club has tempered their expectations.

“It’s a very difficult league, the NHL, and he’ll have to find his way,” Armstrong told the Post-Dispatch. “I don’t want the fan base to put pressure on this player to come in and get 50 goals next year. I think it’s unrealistic, but we truly believe we have an excellent young player that’s going to be dynamic player in our league in the future.”

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WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 z - ANA 82 54 20 8 266 209 116
2 y - COL 82 52 22 8 250 220 112
3 x - STL 82 52 23 7 248 191 111
4 x - SJS 82 51 22 9 249 200 111
5 x - CHI 82 46 21 15 267 220 107
6 x - LAK 82 46 28 8 206 174 100
7 x - MIN 82 43 27 12 207 206 98
8 x - DAL 82 40 31 11 235 228 91
9 PHX 82 37 30 15 216 231 89
10 NSH 82 38 32 12 216 242 88
11 WPG 82 37 35 10 227 237 84
12 VAN 82 36 35 11 196 223 83
13 CGY 82 35 40 7 209 241 77
14 EDM 82 29 44 9 203 270 67

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2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
A. Steen 68 33 29 17 62
T. Oshie 79 21 39 19 60
D. Backes 74 27 30 14 57
J. Schwartz 80 25 31 28 56
A. Pietrangelo 81 8 43 20 51
K. Shattenkirk 81 10 35 1 45
V. Tarasenko 64 21 22 20 43
D. Roy 75 9 28 -1 37
J. Bouwmeester 82 4 33 26 37
V. Sobotka 61 9 24 14 33
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
B. Elliott 18 6 2 .922 1.96
R. Miller 25 30 4 .918 2.64

 
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