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.

SCHEDULE

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WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 z - ANA 82 51 24 7 228 221 109
2 y - STL 82 51 24 7 239 197 109
3 x - NSH 82 47 25 10 226 202 104
4 x - CHI 82 48 28 6 220 186 102
5 x - VAN 82 48 29 5 236 220 101
6 x - MIN 82 46 28 8 227 198 100
7 x - WPG 82 43 26 13 223 204 99
8 x - CGY 82 45 30 7 237 213 97
9 LAK 82 40 27 15 218 197 95
10 DAL 82 41 31 10 257 257 92
11 COL 82 39 31 12 209 223 90
12 SJS 82 40 33 9 224 226 89
13 EDM 82 24 44 14 193 276 62
14 ARI 82 24 50 8 165 267 56

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
V. Tarasenko 77 37 36 27 73
A. Steen 74 24 40 8 64
J. Schwartz 75 28 35 13 63
D. Backes 80 26 32 7 58
T. Oshie 72 19 36 17 55
P. Stastny 74 16 30 5 46
A. Pietrangelo 81 7 39 -2 46
J. Lehtera 75 14 30 21 44
K. Shattenkirk 56 8 36 19 44
P. Berglund 77 12 15 -2 27
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
B. Elliott 26 14 3 .917 2.26
J. Allen 22 7 4 .913 2.28

 
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