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Tarasenko an Early Favorite for Calder

Blues' forward is NHL.com's early pick for League Rookie of the Year

Thursday, 02.14.2013 / 11:37 PM / St Louis Blues - News
By Mike Morreale  - NHL.com
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Tarasenko an Early Favorite for Calder
Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko is NHL.com\'s early favorite to win the Calder Trophy as the NHL Rookie of the Year.



There's little doubt the number of first-year players finding success during this shortened NHL season will make choosing this year's Calder Memorial Trophy winner a painstaking task.

Several names already have been mentioned as viable candidates as the League's top rookie, but at the quarter-mark of the season, St. Louis Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko is our favorite to capture the award.

Not since Pittsburgh Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin burst upon the scene in 2006-07 has a Russian player started his career with such promise. During Malkin's Calder Trophy-winning season, he opened with seven goals and 11 points in six games.

Tarasenko had four goals and eight points in his first six games, leaving little doubt that the 2010 first-round NHL Draft pick (No. 16) was ready for the North American game. He's also earned the trust and respect of coach Ken Hitchcock, who has the 21-year-old earning quality minutes among the top-six forwards. He's played mostly on a line with Andy McDonald and Alexander Steen.

Vladimir Tarasenko
Vladimir Tarasenko
Right Wing - STL
GOALS: 6 | ASST: 5 | PTS: 11
SOG: 32 | +/-: -2
Tarasenko, who has been honing his skills in the KHL since he was 17, has six goals, 11 points and a minus-2 rating in 13 games, playing an average 14:27.

In his debut against the Detroit Red Wings on Jan. 19, Tarasenko scored goals on each of his first two shots in a 6-0 victory. He then had a goal and two assists two days later in a 4-3 shootout win against the Nashville Predators to become the first Blues rookie in nearly 35 years to record five points in his first two NHL games (Wayne Babych, 1978-79).

Hitchcock compared Tarasenko to a rookie he coached with the Dallas Stars in 1995-96: Finnish forward Jere Lehtinen.

"[Tarasenko] just kind of wowed you with his tenacity on the puck, his ability to make plays in small spaces ... Jere was like that," Hitchcock told the St. Louis-Post Dispatch. "Vladi is still learning the game, like Jere was. Vladi is a much better checker than people think. He's a powerful man at 202 pounds and he's got that quick release like Lehtinen had. He makes plays every game."

Tarasenko's feistiness is evidenced by the fact he ranks in the top 10 in hits among rookies this season.

Barret Jackman is the only Blues player to win a Calder Trophy, capturing the award in 2003.

FINALISTS

Cory Conacher, Tampa Bay Lightning: The undrafted 5-foot-8, 170-pound forward out of Canisius College leads all rookies in points (12) and is tied for second in goals (five). Conacher has five multipoint games playing mostly on a line with Vincent Lecavalier and Teddy Purcell. He was named the winner of the Les Cunningham Award as the American Hockey League's Most Valuable Player last season after totaling 39 goals and 80 points for the Calder Trophy-winning Norfolk Admirals, becoming the fourth rookie to win the award since it was first presented in 1947-48. Conacher spent four seasons at Canisius before signing an AHL contract with Norfolk. He signed a two-year NHL deal with the Lightning in March 2012.

Justin Schultz, Edmonton Oilers: Schultz, a Hobey Baker Award finalist in each of the past two seasons at the University of Wisconsin, leads all rookie defensemen in goals, points, power-play goals, shots on goal and average ice time. Drafted in the second round by the Anaheim Ducks in 2008, he signed with the Oilers as a free agent in July. He started his season with 18 goals, 48 points and a plus-8 rating in 34 games with the Oilers' American Hockey League team, the Oklahoma City Barons.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 NSH 65 41 17 7 193 158 89
2 ANA 64 40 17 7 189 177 87
3 STL 63 40 18 5 197 159 85
4 CHI 64 38 21 5 188 152 81
5 WPG 64 32 20 12 179 172 76
6 VAN 62 36 23 3 180 167 75
7 MIN 62 33 22 7 176 161 73
8 CGY 62 33 25 4 175 160 70
9 LAK 62 29 21 12 166 162 70
10 SJS 64 31 25 8 179 181 70
11 COL 63 27 25 11 167 182 65
12 DAL 63 27 26 10 196 210 64
13 ARI 63 20 36 7 138 214 47
14 EDM 63 18 35 10 143 208 46

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
V. Tarasenko 63 31 30 27 61
A. Steen 61 19 32 6 51
J. Schwartz 56 20 27 13 47
T. Oshie 55 17 27 11 44
D. Backes 62 21 22 4 43
K. Shattenkirk 49 8 32 18 40
P. Stastny 55 12 25 11 37
J. Lehtera 56 9 24 13 33
A. Pietrangelo 63 6 27 -2 33
P. Berglund 59 8 12 -2 20
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
B. Elliott 20 9 2 .921 2.20
J. Allen 17 6 3 .903 2.55

 
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