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Tarasenko Ready for Next Challenge

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

Wednesday, 09.05.2012 / 11:54 AM / 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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WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 NSH 62 41 14 7 188 147 89
2 ANA 63 39 17 7 186 176 85
3 STL 61 39 18 4 190 152 82
4 CHI 63 37 21 5 183 150 79
5 WPG 63 31 20 12 174 170 74
6 VAN 61 35 23 3 174 162 73
7 MIN 61 32 22 7 173 160 71
8 LAK 61 29 20 12 164 157 70
9 CGY 62 33 25 4 175 160 70
10 SJS 62 30 24 8 173 177 68
11 COL 62 27 24 11 166 179 65
12 DAL 62 27 25 10 195 207 64
13 ARI 62 20 35 7 137 210 47
14 EDM 62 18 34 10 142 206 46

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
V. Tarasenko 61 31 29 27 60
A. Steen 59 19 32 4 51
J. Schwartz 54 20 26 16 46
D. Backes 60 20 21 3 41
T. Oshie 53 17 24 12 41
K. Shattenkirk 49 8 32 18 40
P. Stastny 53 11 23 10 34
J. Lehtera 54 9 24 16 33
A. Pietrangelo 61 5 27 -3 32
P. Berglund 57 8 11 -2 19
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
B. Elliott 19 9 2 .921 2.21
J. Allen 17 6 2 .905 2.50

 
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