St. Louis Blues: 5 Reasons to Be Excited About Vladimir Tarasenko
Right now, there isn't a lot for hockey fans to be happy about.
The NHL is set to lock out again, and both sides look to be far from a deal. This is coming after the league saw record revenue—and the owners want more. With training camp right around the corner, it is very unlikely a deal will get done before the start of the season.
But, the Blues do have a reason to be happy: Vladimir Tarasenko.
The Blues' draft pick from the first round in 2010 has been playing in the Kontinental Hockey League since the draft. It was uncertain as to whether or not he would even come to the NHL. But, the Blues got the deal done, and now fans are excited.
These five reasons are all you need, to see just how good Tarasenko could be in the Blues lineup.
Natural Goal-Scoring Ability
Probably one of the most important things about Tarasenko is his natural goal-scoring ability. If you don't believe that this guy is good, just check the video above.
He scores three of his team's first four goals. Two of them are behind the top of the circles. For his second goal, he goes top shelf, through the defender's legs.
That is the definition of a pure goal scorer.
In 2011-12 while playing for HC Sibir and SKA St. Petersburg, Tarasenko scored 47 points in 54 games. 23 of those 47 points were goals. In 15 playoff games for SKA, Tarasenko tallied 10 goals and 16 points in just 15 games.
Tarasenko has what it takes to play at the elite level in the NHL, and was close to putting up a point per game in the KHL, at the age of 20. The Blues need a pure goal scorer, and Tarasenko may just be the answer.
The Blues gained some valuable postseason experience, making it to the second round last year. But, Tarasenko has seen some success in international play that can translate easily.
Tarasenko may actually be better in international play than in the KHL. Tarasenko has played 20 games in the World Junior Championships, and has 31 points. In the U18 WJC, Tarasenko had 15 points in just seven games.
In the U18 WJC, he averaged 2.14 points per game. In international play overall, he averages 1.55 points per game.
There was not a single player for the Blues who averaged that kind of PPG output in the postseason.
Tarasenko definitely knows how to step up when the pressure is on. Some players like T.J. Oshie or Patrik Berglund have faded away in the postseason, and Tarasenko could step up and take their place.
Incredible Puck Control
As stated in the first two slides, Tarasenko can flat out score goals. But he doesn't just score them, he makes defenders look foolish.
Tarasenko has incredible puck control. He can weave in and out of defenders. He can make goaltenders feel downright silly. He can cut in from the corner, make it to the front of the net, and put the puck in the back of the net.
Not many players on the Blues can do that. David Backes, T.J. Oshie and David Perron have that kind of stick strength, but are a few years older; so, they should be stronger.
Tarasenko appears in highlight reel after highlight reel because of his puck control and natural goal-scoring ability. He has the ability to be extremely good with the Blues.
Quite possibly the best part about Tarasenko is not how good he is, but how good he has the ability to be.
He already has the talent to play in the NHL. He has the strength to play 70 games in a season. And this is all while playing in the KHL.
The Blues can now train him as they would like him to be. He has strength and conditioning coaches to get him even stronger and give him increased endurance. They get to work him into their system.
As he gets stronger, Tarasenko will be able to get faster and get a harder shot. If he can put up the numbers he is posting now, what will happen when he enters his prime?
At age 20, Tarasenko will continue to get stronger and has many years before he gets into his prime, and he already is putting up ridiculous numbers. After a few years in the NHL, Tarasenko could be the NHL's next superstar.
Speed and Vision
If you're still not pumped for Tarasenko to come to the NHL, then just watch the video above.
What I like about this video—aside from continuing to show just how good he is—is that Tarasenko can score because of his speed and vision on the ice.
Tarasenko always seems to get that extra burst of speed—whether it be coming down the boards or cutting to the middle—that gets him the best shot on goal. He can see the open patch of ice and then use his speed to get there.
Not only that, but he can also use his speed to set up other players. He can use it to draw in his defenders and then feed the puck to the open man for a goal.
Tarasenko is a special kind of player. He will instantly make an impact in the Blues lineup. he can be the next big superstar not only for the Blues, but for the NHL.
It's something the Blues should be excited about.