Last year, the Blues used their 16th overall pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft on a young, excited, adept Russian – Vladimir Tarasenko. Despite being picked in a later round, Tarasenko had all the makings of a future NHL stud and many fans were treating Tarasenko like the second coming of Ovechkin to the NHL, only we – the St. Louis Blues – would have him. After scoring 6 goals in last years World Juniors, having his second best season in the KHL with HC Sibir (in terms of goal scoring) and despite not playing many games in IIHF World Championship play (though when he did play, he made it count) aided in his country heading back home with a gold medal, Blues fans and reporters everywhere were foaming at the mouth, anticipating a move from the KHL in to the more accessible NHL. Fans everywhere had all the news they needed, including rumors of talks about salary and contract negotiations, his leaving the KHL ‘early’ – all we were waiting for was a confirmation.
Well, fans got confirmation earlier this week…but not the kind they were hoping for. It was learned that Tarasenko would be staying in the KHL for another season with HC Sibir. Many fans were outraged and, as usual with any sport, ready to point fingers at anything they could, be it the ownership situation, GM Doug Armstrong, the KHL and NHL contracts, etc. However, for Tarasenko’s young age, it sounded as though he had experience and wisdom on his side. Though I doubt he made the decision to stay in the KHL all on his own and probably had some talks with his agent, teammates, family or others, he sounded genuine about his decision and sounds as though he truly believes this last year in the KHL is in his best interests. While I was excited to see him don the Blue, I fully respect his decision. Tarasenko really can only benefit from more time in the oven to season. More experience, wherever you can get it, is never a bad thing and Tarasenko seems an able and willing player.
Of course, the lack of the young Russian Sensation brings even more questions to mind; with Tarasenko staying home this season and David Perron potentially out at the beginning of 2011-12, what do the Blues do to bulk up their front lines? With May waning, July 1st will creep upon us faster than expected and with the Blues lack of ownership, it makes this situation a harder one. While it’d be easy to say or instruct someone to buck up and buy a top-notch forward, even if it’s only for a one year “gap”…where is that money going to come from? And with the Blues’ lack of greatness, St. Louis will more than likely have to package some of their beloved players, no matter how bad, to make a move to get someone much needed up front. So, what do you think Blues Nation? Who goes/stays/comes in?