Deja Vu All Over Again; We Wait For Tarasenko’s Decision

Kevin Lorenz, Tue, 29 May 2012 13:17:00 GMT

It’s the end of May, which means the Stanley Cup Finals are beginning, and Blues fans have had plenty of time to go through the stages of grief and remain stuck in the bargaining stage.

Trading scrap pieces for the rights of restricted free agent superstars, signing the only four free agents that everyone has heard of (who incidentally are all superstars too) remain on the docket for the internet-based GMs in Blues’ nation. But even the armchair executives are realistic; all of their offseason plans hinge on the availability of one Vladimir Tarasenko.

And so we wait, again. We wait on the decision of a 20 year old kid whose absence has inspired more legend than Area 51, and higher expectations than prom night. We wait for a soft œbeginning of June� deadline for a decision that could come on June the first, or August 14th. Taken 16th overall in 2010, Tarasenko has steadily improved his KHL totals year by year, but after a not-so-surprising decision to stay in Russia last summer, there seems to be wheels in motion that will keep him in the KHL for this season with the same likelihood that there are wheels in motion finally pushing him to North America where he has a chance to earn an NHL roster spot. You could make your argument for both, and many have, but as Blues fans await either massive disappointment in a week, or an overblown sense of excitement, here’s what we do know.

Tarasenko was the fourth best player in the draft according to the International Scouting Service. For perspective’s sake, that means that Taylor Hall, Tyler Seguin, and Brandon Gormley were considered to be better choices in the draft. According to the NHL’s Central Scouting Bureau, Mikael Granlund was the highest-ranked European skater, one spot ahead of Tarasenko. Granted these are projections based on what scouts believe an 18 year old kid will do among the absolute best players in the world in their peak conditions (for the most part), but when purchasing your #91 Blues’ jerseys, remember that not only has Tarasenko yet played in the NHL, he wasn’t even expected to be the best player in his own draft class.

In two seasons, Hall has played 126 games and averages .75 points per game in his young career. Seguin had a slower ascent, tripling his rookie point totals (74 gp, 11g 11a) this season with 67 points in 81 games. Granlund scored 51 points in 45 games in the SM-Liiga this season (take that however you’d like). He has just signed with the Minnesota Wild. As a defenseman, Gormley put up 32 points in 35 games in the QMJHL.

So as we sit and wait for an announcement that may never come, I will play Myth Buster over some of the things being said about Vladimir Tarasenko.

Tarasenko is a future 100 point player:
Since the lockout, the 100 point plateau has been reached just 25 times. In fact, only 15 different players in that same span got to triple digits. Evgeni Malkin, Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby, Danny Heatley, Joe Thornton, are the only players who did it multiple times. Pat Kane, Ilya Kovalchuk, Zach Parise, and Pavel Datsyuk are among some big names that have never scored 100 points. It’s a stretch to say Tarasenko will do what they haven’t. It’s not a knock on him, 100 points is just a milestone reserved for the absolute best of the best in today’s NHL.

Tarasenko is an annual 30 goal scorer:
It’s possible, but while there happened to be a surge in 30 goal scorers over the previous season, not all of them will do it next season. Some of them will never score thirty again. The guys that do it every season are hard to find. He has the potential to score 30 goals, but he likely won’t do it every year.

Tarasenko will have an instant impact when he finally joins the NHL:
I don’t have a stat that is going to measure how good he will be in his first NHL season if and when it happens, but it’s unfair at best to assume that he will not only immediately replace one of the current top six forwards, but that he will also be an instant factor. It’s unfortunate that if he scores 15 goals and 25 assists in his first season, he will be viewed with intense scrutiny. If he scores 20 in his rookie season I’ll be happy.