Tarasenko Ready for Next Challenge

Blues' first-round pick in 2010 says he's ready to play in the NHL

Wednesday, 09.5.2012 / 10:54 AM CT / St Louis Blues - Features
By Chris Pinkert  - St. Louis Blues
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Tarasenko Ready for Next Challenge
Vladimir Tarasenko was introduced to the St. Louis media on Thursday, Sept. 6 at the Ice Zone at St. Louis Mills.


HAZELWOOD - Vladimir Tarasenko was all smiles as he was introduced to the St. Louis media on Thursday at the Ice Zone at St. Louis Mills.

And as Darren Pang would say: why wouldn’t he be?

The 20-year-old Russian prospect arrived in St. Louis last Friday and has spent time getting adjusted to a new town. He began skating informally with some of his new teammates on Tuesday and already appears to be fitting in.

He certainly looked good in blue as he was presented with a Blues jersey bearing his No. 91 at Thursday's press conference.

“I’m very excited to be here in St. Louis playing for the St. Louis Blues, and I’m happy to help the team win the Stanley Cup this year," Tarasenko said through his interpreter, Irina Sandler. "I am ready to play for the best league in the world.”

The Blues originally drafted Tarasenko in the first round (16th overall) in 2010. According to NHL Central Scouting, the 6-foot, 215-pound right-winger was the No. 2 ranked European skater and was projected by some draft experts to be a Top-5 pick. But the Kontinental Hockey League has displayed an ability to keep Russian forwards at home by giving them sizable contracts, making scouts skeptical of drafting Russian prospects.

When GM Doug Armstrong traded defensive prospect David Rundblad to Ottawa in exchange for their 16th overall pick, the Blues were happy to find that Tarasenko was still available.

The talented right-winger has played in the KHL since the 2008-09 season, scoring 52 goals and 48 assists (100 points) in 176 games. In 2010, as captain of Russia’s World Junior Championship team, he helped his team overcome a 3-0 deficit in the Gold Medal game by scoring the game-tying goal.

Russia eventually beat Canada in overtime to claim the Gold Medal.

Without a doubt, the Blues are getting an experienced player. As one of the top goal scorers available in the 2010 Draft class, Tarasenko could be a major component of the Blues’ offense as soon as this season. But Armstrong wants fans to temper their expectations.

“We think his skill set and style of play is tailor-made for our League," Armstrong said. "We think he has a chance to be a good player on a very good team. Because of the great work the players did last year, winning the division and getting 109 points, we’re just looking for another complement player to come in here and play.

"There’s no pressure on Vladi to be something that he can’t be. We’re going to allow him to develop on his own time and come along at his own pace. When we signed him (in June), we believed he was NHL-ready. Now it’s up to him to come and prove that.”

Added Tarasenko, "My ambition is to do the best I can to help the team and also to prove to myself that I'm capable of playing with the best players in the world.”

Press PLAY below to watch Vladimir Tarasenko's creative breakaway shot at the KHL All-Star Game earlier this year.

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  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 x - ANA 78 49 22 7 227 216 105
2 x - NSH 77 47 22 8 220 188 102
3 STL 76 46 23 7 229 190 99
4 CHI 76 46 24 6 217 176 98
5 MIN 76 44 25 7 219 186 95
6 VAN 76 44 27 5 219 204 93
7 CGY 77 42 28 7 229 204 91
8 WPG 76 39 25 12 215 201 90
9 LAK 76 37 25 14 201 192 88
10 DAL 77 37 30 10 239 248 84
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12 COL 76 35 29 12 206 213 82
13 EDM 76 23 40 13 185 255 59
14 ARI 77 23 46 8 161 256 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
V. Tarasenko 76 36 35 25 71
A. Steen 73 24 38 6 62
J. Schwartz 69 24 32 12 56
D. Backes 75 25 29 6 54
T. Oshie 67 19 33 13 52
P. Stastny 68 14 29 3 43
A. Pietrangelo 76 6 36 -6 42
J. Lehtera 69 11 29 16 40
K. Shattenkirk 51 8 32 15 40
P. Berglund 71 9 13 -7 22
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
B. Elliott 24 14 3 .919 2.20
J. Allen 19 6 4 .906 2.45

 
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