Tarasenko Staying in the KHL
According to Jeremy Rutherford of the Post-Dispatch, Vladimir Tarasenko has decided to continue playing in the KHL next season after much speculation that he might attempt to crack the St. Louis 2011-12 NHL roster. Tarasenko is coming off a fairly quiet World Championships performance with Russia and has now announced via video that he intends to remain with Sibir of the KHL.
You can almost feel the collective disappointment of Blues fans that had hoped they might get their first glance of the talented youngster in the upcoming season. It appeared to be a near 50-50 split of where Tarasenko would wind up playing in the 2011-12 season, with even Sibir’s general manager stating he thought there was a high percentage Tarasenko would skate in the NHL.
At just 19 years of age, Tarasenko has been unanimously labeled as the most exciting prospect in the St. Louis organization. At the World Championships, Blues GM Doug Armstrong stated he believed that Tarasenko was ready for the NHL, and could skate there in the near future.
It was assumed that Tarasenko would only make the move to the United States if he was certain the Blues would use him on the NHL roster, and so far there has been no indication that the Blues were going to send him to Peoria. Still, perhaps the young Russian didn’t like the uncertainty of the changing ownership and didn’t want to come over while the rest of the team’s lineup is in turmoil.
To date the Blues have yet to announce that they have made any progress on retaining their rather large list of free agents. It seems quite possible that Tarasenko wants to wait and see what happens with all the changes looming prior to the 2011-12 season before he makes the large leap to the NHL. Simply put, the timing may just not be right and all fans should agree that Tarasenko shouldn’t move until he feels he is completely ready. This view is speculative, but ask yourself if you would feel comfortable coming over to a team that has plenty of unanswered questions both on and off the ice if you could remain in an environment you are familiar and comfortable with for one more season.
Assuming ownership and lineup issues are less of a factor heading into 2012-13, I’d say it is nearly a guarantee that we will see the exciting talents of Tarasenko with the Blues.
My hope is that even with all the hype, Tarasenko is able to live up to the enormous expectations placed on his shoulders. Unfortunately, for every Alex Pietrangelo there’s a Lars Eller and to date, an Erik Johnson.