One of Russia’s most talented young hockey players, Vladimir Tarasenko, is switching Gazprom powered SKA St. Petersburg for the Saint Louis Blues in the NHL.
The SKA bosses had great desire to keep the 20-year-old in Russia. According to Sport-Express newspaper, they offered Tarasenko a new two-year contract in St. Pete, which would have made him one of the highest-paid skaters in the KHL.
But in the end, the player decided to move across the Atlantic, where he was drafted by the Saint Louis Blues under No.16 back in 2010.
"He certainly had a contract [offer] in value that outshot what he could sign as an entry-level contract in the NHL, so I think it’s a testament to the process," Doug Armstrong, Blues general manager, told Stltoday.com. "The Blues went to [the Czech Republic] last year and sat with him and his group and made a push [to come to St. Louis]. He said he wanted to stay one more year. We were accepting of that and he went back and played in the KHL. I think it was part of the relationship building."
A lot is expected for the new signing in St Louis, and the Blues are eager to provide him with time and support to adjust to the new league and the American way of life.
“We’re excited to have a player of his caliber come to our team at this age,” he added. “But I don’t think as an organization, we don’t want to put any undue pressure on him. He’s going to have a great opportunity to come in and make our team and make a statement, but we’re not relying on him to push a team over the top. It’s a very difficult league, the NHL, and he’ll have to find his way. We’re going to put him into areas to succeed not fail, so I don’t want the fan base to put pressure on this player to come in and get 50 goals next year. I think it’s unrealistic, but we truly believe we have an excellent young player that’s going to be a dynamic player in our league in the future.”
Tarasenko scored 47 points (23 goals and 24 assists) in his first full Russian season, which he began with Traktor Chelyabinsk and finished with SKA.
He was also Russia’s captain when the team won the World Junior Championships in Buffalo, USA, in 2011.
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