25-Year-Old Right Wing – St. Louis Blues
Vladimir Tarasenko Contract Information:
Signed an eight-year, $60 million contract with the Blues in July 2015 that runs through the end of the 2022-23 season.
Tarasenko practiced Friday on a line with Patrik Berglund and Robby Fabbri, Tom Timmerman of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.
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Vladimir Tarasenko: Past News Updates ( ▲ View most recent update )
RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
We knew Tarasenko was primed for a breakout, but he was truly otherworldly in his third NHL season. He finished in a tie for 10th in scoring with 73 points in 77 games, potted 37 markers (many of the highlight-reel variety) and posted a plus-27 rating. And he get the beat going during the postseason, adding six goals and an assist in the Blues' first-round loss to the Wild. St. Louis rewarded Tarasenko in the offseason by locking him up for eight years, making him the face and long-term future of the franchise. At 23, the Russian is heading into the prime years of his career, and should be one of the best players in the league again. It's not quite clear how the Blues' lines will shake out, but he's not going to be anywhere but the top one. The scary thing is, Tarasenko could still take another step forward this year, especially with St. Louis bringing back just about every key contributor from last season aside from T.J. Oshie.
After a rookie season that was occasionally marred by inconsistency, Tarasenko showed noteworthy improvements in Year Two in St. Louis, increasing his scoring output from 0.50 to 0.67 points/game while becoming one of the Blues’ best puck possessors with a team-best 58.1 Corsi For Percentage. The young Russian really seemed to catch fire in March, compiling three goals and six assists in eight games before breaking his right hand and missing the rest of the regular season. However, Tarasenko would return in time for the Blues’ first-round playoff series with the Blackhawks and was arguably the team’s MVP during the six-game defeat, scoring four goals while still wearing a cast on his hand. Still only 22 years old, Tarasenko could very well emerge as the Blues’ top scorer in 2014-15, even as the team’s considerable forward depth affords him lesser ice time than most of the league’s other elite right wingers. He’s expected to open the season on the team’s second line with Paul Stastny and Jaden Schwartz, a potentially explosive trio that most teams would be happy to have as their top unit.
Tarasenko came out of the gates like a barn on fire by posting 10 points (five goals, five assists) in his first eight games and it looked like the start of a potential rookie-of-the-year campaign. That was until Colorado's Mark Olver knocked him out cold with a wicked hit on Feb 20. Tarasenko missed the next ten games and only mustered nine more points after his strong start. The kid has a nose for the puck, great skating skills and showed the ability to finish plays. Look for the 21-year-old phenom to improve on last year's numbers now that he has had a taste of North American style hockey. He could be a great sleeper pick, but don't wait on him too long. The potential for a 60-point season will lure many fantasy suitors.
After some conflicting reports, Tarasenko signed a contract with the Blues and it is believed he'll land a roster spot. The 2010 first-round draft pick, who spent the last two seasons in the KHL, has made overtures that he's not coming to North America to play in Peoria (AHL). But there won't be a spot available for him on the top six -- at least not yet -- in St. Louis. The Blues are high on the prospect, but he won't be handed a plum job right away. We'll have to see how his talent mixes in with other players during training camp and to see if Tarasenko is ready for the NHL, but at best, he'll land a spot on the third line.
Tarasenko, 19, overcame a shoulder injury mid-season and had a relatively successful year in Russia. He has decided to skate for one more season in the KHL after a year of speculation that he would bring his offensive skill to North America in 2011-12. Another year of development in Russia may help in the long run, but the Blues were hoping to get him here for the season, even if it were in the AHL. And that may be the reason why Tarasenko decided to stay for another season. He’d like to have a spot on the NHL roster.
Tarasenko was the Blues’ first-round pick in the 2010 draft, and will play in the Russian KHL this season. With one more year on his KHL deal, we expect Tarasenko in North America by the 2011-12 season. He’s a gifted offensive player, with a booming shot but also features some playmaking skills. At the moment, he’s all offense and has a ways to go to become a two-way player. With the Blues’ organization bereft of skilled forwards, Tarasenko moves to the top of the forward-prospect list.