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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 ANA 48 32 10 6 143 124 70
2 NSH 46 31 10 5 141 107 67
3 STL 46 29 13 4 148 111 62
4 CHI 48 30 16 2 151 112 62
5 WPG 49 26 15 8 138 122 60
6 SJS 48 25 17 6 131 132 56
7 VAN 46 26 17 3 124 118 55
8 CGY 48 26 19 3 140 126 55
9 LAK 48 21 15 12 133 129 54
10 COL 49 20 18 11 128 141 51
11 DAL 47 21 19 7 146 154 49
12 MIN 47 21 20 6 130 138 48
13 ARI 47 16 25 6 108 160 38
14 EDM 48 12 27 9 110 160 33

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
V. Tarasenko 46 24 23 23 47
A. Steen 44 15 25 8 40
K. Shattenkirk 46 8 31 17 39
J. Schwartz 39 16 21 15 37
D. Backes 45 16 17 5 33
J. Lehtera 45 9 21 16 30
T. Oshie 38 13 15 11 28
A. Pietrangelo 46 4 23 0 27
P. Stastny 38 9 16 5 25
P. Berglund 45 6 9 -1 15
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
B. Elliott 13 5 2 .930 1.86
J. Allen 13 5 2 .900 2.65

 
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