(Photo Credit: Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
The Quick Breakdown of Tarasenko
Vladimir Tarasenko has been an incredible hockey player ever since coming into the NHL back in 2012-2013 season. The hype was excentric when St. Louis Fans heard he was coming to St. Louis to play professional hockey. The Russian Sniper has 174 Goals and 170 Assists, totaling 344 points in the six seasons that he has been playing hockey. He has made a significant amount of noise around the league through the incredible release he has on the puck when shooting at the net. He tends to catch goaltenders off guard by being able to get the puck on his stick and to the net within a matter of seconds. There is one problem though, he does not have a dynamic, impactful center that can feed him the puck to make him that much more terrifying when in the offensive zone. If this could happen, his numbers could increase drastically, which would only make him a more pivotal player in the offensive zone than he already is right now.
The Search for a #1 Center Continues…
Although Tarasenko has had an incredible career thus far, he still needs that impactful center to increase his goal scoring. He needs that elite center to make himself more impactful night in and night out. A strong center could ignite a deadly first-line. If the St. Louis Blues could somehow muster up some cap-space, we could sign this elite center that we so desperately need on the first line. I know one name that floats through the brain of every Blues fan is John Tavares.
John Tavares could make for a very impactful center for Vladimir Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz. The hard part to wrap one’s head around is that he could be worth a solid $10 Million when he hits the market as an Unrestricted Free-Agent. The Blues have nowhere near that much cap-space, especially after signing Alexander Steen to a 4-year extension and retaining some of Paul Stastny‘s salary when trading him to Winnipeg. One of the most concerning factors that bothers most fans is the fact that we have somehow lost any cap-room to play with this off-season.
Mikael Backlund may be the cheapest route to make the difference next season at the center position. He is making a little over $3.5 Million in the final year of his contract this season. The problem here is that he is more of a second line center. This was the problem that we had with Paul Stastny. Although he was a solid center for the Blues, he just did not have the grit and tenacity that was needed in that position. Mikael Backlund has a wonderful skill-set and the Blues could definitely use him down the center of their lineup.
Considering that there are a few players out there that could bolster up the center position, we will have to make a move with our roster so we can loosen up the cap-space to make something big happen this off-season. The Blues have a phenomenal core of players already, they just need a couple of pieces that are missing to be a serious Stanley Cup Contender. In all the years that the Blues have been in the league, they have not won a single championship. The organization is dying for it, the fans are crying for it, but it feels as though sometimes the players do not have the drive for it.
Whats Wrong with Tarasenko’s Performance?
Ever since breaking into the NHL, there has been a ton of pressure on Tarasenko to perform at an incredibly high level. The Blues needed a big goal scorer and someone who would be a threat to every goaltender in the league as soon as his skate touched the ice. Within the first six years of his NHL career, he has been able to amass 174 goals. He has done this by scoring about 40 goals on almost any given season. This season he has unfortunately been nowhere near the production level he has been at in previous years.
Tarasenko hit a lull about mid-season where it was almost as if he was a ghost on the ice. He took shots at the net, but they would go wide or even just hit the goaltender right in the chest. He has only amassed 29 goals this season. With only seven games remaining, he will most likely finish the season with around 35 goals, but that is if he can consistently score at least one goal in six of the last seven games. Although it has been hard to watch him struggle this season, in Tarasenko’s defense, the entire Blues offense fell apart like a house of cards in a wind storm. This could have been one of the main reason’s that Tarasenko’s game was so off track mid-season. Despite the challenges he has faced, if the Blues are able to make it to the playoffs this season, Tarasenko still has the potential to be one of the main reasons they could make a dent. During the playoffs, he will have the opportunity to put his tough season behind him and instead be the player that we all know him to be.
Things to Look Forward to from Tarasenko
Vladimir Tarasenko is a phenomenal player with some untapped potential. If we can get him the center that he needs for future seasons, he could increase the number of goals he scores on average. He could bump his number up to 45 or even possibly 50 goals in a single season. He can again invigorate the Blues and create an electrifying atmosphere in the locker room, on the ice, and in the Scottrade Center with the fans. The hope is Tarasenko will be a St. Louis Blue for a long time, if not his entire career.
Even though he might be struggling a bit, Tarasenko is going to become one of the greats in St. Louis Blues History. I’m not scared to say that due to the amount of production that he has been able to make throughout his years in the NHL. As soon as we can get that impactful center that is so desperately needed, he will become an even more feared sniper. We will see more goals that will have us glued to the highlight reels. Whether he one-hand tucks it past the goaltender or snipes it from the blueline top shelf where momma hides the cookies, we will be ready to watch the Russian Sniper in action.
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