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Behind The Bench: Vladmir Tarasenko

by on 09/07/2011

Vitals

Born: December 13, 1991
Birth date: Yaroslavl, RUS
Height: 6’0” (184 cm)
Weight: 202 lbs (92 kg)
Position: Right Wing
Shoots: Left
NHL Draft: 16th overall by the St. Louis Blues in 2010
NHL Team: St. Louis Blues
Jersey No.: –
National Team: Russia
NHL Contract: –
Cap Hit: –

History

Tarasenko learned everything he knows about hockey from his father Andrei Tarasenko, a former Russian league scoring champion and Olympian.

He made his professional debut in the 2008-09 with the team his father head coached for, Sibir Novosibirsk of the KHL. In his rookie season, Tarasenko played in 38 games, scoring 7 goals and 3 assists, good for 10 points. He finished second in voting for rookie of the year. Tarasenko was released from Sibir to join the Russian junior team at the 2009 IIHF World U18 Championships. Tarasenko put on a dominating performance during the tournament. He tallied 15 points in 7 games and helped Russia win a silver medal and was named a tournament All-Star.

Tarasenko rejoined Sibir for the 2009-10 season as the sixth youngest player in the KHL. He played in 42 games scoring 13 goals and 11 assists, for 24 points. Tarasenko was again chosen to represent Russia at the 2010 World Junior Hockey Championships, where he finished 3rd in team scoring with 5 points in 6 games. Russia finished the tournament in 6th place. With another strong season, Tarasenko finished the season ranked 2nd among European skaters by the International Scouting Services behind Mikael Granlund. Tarasenko had a longer night than expected as he was drafted 16th overall by the St. Louis Blues after they had traded David Rundblad to the Ottawa Senators for their first round pick. Tarasenko fell in the draft due to concerns about his contract status in the KHL with Sibir.

Tarasenko spent the 2010-11 season with Sibir where he played in 42 games and tallied 9 goals and 10 assists for 19 points. He also represented Russia during the 2011 World Junior Hockey Championships. Tarasenko played a pivotal role in the gold medal game against Canada where he scored the 3-3 game tying goal at the 7:29 mark of the third period. His tying goal marked the start of Russia’s comeback and eventually beat Canada 5-3. Tarasenko finished the tournament tied for 2nd in scoring with teammate Evgeny Kuznetsov with 11 points in 7 games. Only Brayden Schenn had more points, 18 in 7 games.

Tarasenko has expressed his interest in coming to North America to play in the NHL but his father, head coach of Sibir, believes it is important that Vladimir stays in Russia for now.

Talent Analysis

Tarasenko is a good all-round player who has tremendous puck-handling and one-on-one skills. He is very strong on his skates and is tough to knock off the puck. He plays the game with a lot of grit, tenacity, and is a fiery competitor who enjoys a physical game. He also uses his explosive acceleration to create space for himself which leads to his many goals. He also has strong play making abilities where he sets up his teamates with the same aplomb when he’s scoring goals.

Since a young age, Tarasenko has been given tough defensive assignments but has always done an admirable job. Although he can be depended on from time to time with defensive assignments, he is not a shutdown forward and using him in such a role would be wasting his offensive talents. Tarasenko is a versatile player, who is capable of playing any forward position. Although he is a versatile forward, he is likely play on the wing due to questions about his two-way ability as a centre at the NHL level.

Future

With off-season acquisition of Jamie Langenbrunner and Jason Arnott, the Blues are now jammed on both sides and down the middle. It appears it will be another year until Blues fans get to see what Tarasenko can do on North American ice but the payoff may be worth the wait. Tarasenko is projected to be a first-line scorer and should compliment a very young team.

Tarasenko has produced 10 more points in his first three years of pro hockey in Russia than Alexander Ovechkin did in his first three years. Tarasenko has produced 53 points while Ovechkin produced 43. In his four years of pro hockey in Russia, Ovechkin produced 69 points and then left for the NHL. Tarasenko could very well eclipse Ovi’s point total and follow in his footsteps and leave Russia after his 4th year of pro hockey

If Tarasenko and the blues agree to contract terms next season, expect him to flank Patrik Berglund and T.J. Oshie at different times during the regular season. Playing with Berglund will allow Tarasenko to be the trigger man on the line, while playing with Oshie will ease his defensive responsibilities as Oshie is an emerging two-way forward. The Blues have a plethora of talent at center and on the wings. Wherever and whoever Tarasenko plays with, it’s almost guaranteed he will succeed. I project Tarasenko to become a perennially 35 goal scorer who eclipses that mark more than once in his career.

The Blues will most likely use Tarasenko as the cornerstone of the team going forward and it’ll be interesting to see if he can become a better player than Alex Ovechkin.

NHL Highlights

  • Drafted 16th overall in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft

Career Highlights

  • 2008-09 U18 WJC All-Star Team
  • 2008-09 U18 WJC Silver Medal
  • 2008-09 U18 WJC Top 3 Player on Team Russia
  • 2010-11 U20 WJC Gold Medal
  • 2010-11 U20 WJC Top 3 Player on Team Russia

Career Stats

EHT: 3 GP, 0 G, 0 A, 0 Pts
KHL:
122 GP, 29 G, 24 A, 53 Pts
KHL Playoffs:
3 GP, 0 G, 0 A, 0 Pts
MHL:
1 GP, 1 G, 0 A, 1 Pts
Russia3:
17 GP, 6 G, 4 A, 10 Pts
WC:
6 GP, 1 G, 0 A, 1 Pt
WJC-18:
7 GP, 8 G, 7 A, 15 Pts
WJC-20:
13 GP, 8 G, 8 A, 16 Pts

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