The St. Louis Blues have a pretty special player in Vladimir Tarasenko. However, is he doing enough to earn that star power right now?
So, while he was definitely on their radar, he was not their top priority. Nothing against Swizzle Schwartz, but it’s hard to imagine the Blues even contending for a playoff spot this year or being one of the top seeds last year without Tarasenko.
With hindsight fully behind us, the Blues should have taken Jonathan Toews in 2006 instead of Erik Johnson. The same almost happened in 2010.
Even with all that in mind, the question has to be asked whether Tarasenko is doing enough for this team. We also need to ask ourselves individually if we have too high expectations for him.
To look at the second question first, we have to figure out what we want from him. When I set out to write this article, I intended to pretty much take the hard line that he needs to do much more.
When I stepped back and looked at his stats and looked at his game logs, I had to turn around and ask what I want from him. If I’m honest, I probably want Brett Hull numbers because the comparison has been made so much.
How fair is that though? Hull has the fourth most goals in NHL history. Is it really fair to ask a guy to become a top-ten player in history before he’s even been in the NHL a full five seasons?
The answer, really, is no. Tarasenko has to be his own player and his own personality.
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Hull was a once in a lifetime player. Tarasenko might prove to be the same, but right now he is simply very good.
Hull had the rare combination of skill and a personality that would not be denied. Tarasenko is shy publicly and more than willing to defer on the ice.
That does not mean he does not have the talent to take over a game. He simply has not developed that killer instinct to know he needs to take over games sometimes.
The biggest criticism I and several others have of Tarasenko is his ability to disappear. We have this image in our head of superstars scoring a goal every game or coming up with the game winning goal or assist every time the team needs it.
This is fantasy land and we are all living in it. While it would be wonderful for Tarasenko to score a goal or even a point in every game, it does not happen in today’s NHL.
Even in Hull’s day when he was scoring 100 points for fun and popping in 70-plus goals, it was not commonplace. The league has ebbs and flows and we are in an ebb.
We are all guilty of saying he needs to step up more or he needs to shoot more or even he needs to score more often. Looking at the stats, we need to wonder how much more is good enough?
If you break his scoring down, he scores a goal just about every other game (.477 goals per game). That puts him on pace to score 38 goals in total, which would be the second most of his career.
Most fans have to admit they figured 40 would be a stepping stone, but a player won’t always eclipse last year’s numbers. We also have to consider the rest of the league.
Tarasenko is currently 14th in the league in total scoring. That’s mostly due to being a winger on a team that has struggled to score and not getting as many assists as other guys.
Vlady is actually tied for second in goals scored with 32. Sidney Crosby only has two more goals as the league leader.
So, what more can he actually do? Yes, he needs to be more of a leader and he needs to defer to teammates who are not anywhere near as talented. In terms of the end result though, is it fair to expect more?
It is fine to think he is capable of more in a vacuum. However, even if 32 goals seems too low, if it is tied for second most in the league how much more can we ask?
We all want someone on the Blues to be considered the best in the league. Tarasenko does have that talent in him, but it might never fully materialize and we might need to be OK with that.
Even if he is one of the ten best players in the league, I’m willing to take it. That’s better than the Blues have had since Hull left.
The only frustrating thing is knowing what he is capable of and seeing him not give a full effort every single time. He is only human. I suppose we just want superheroes.
Tarasenko does need to do a little bit more. He has yet to prove himself on the biggest stage in the playoffs.
A little more consistency instead of streaky would be OK too. Tarasenko had two stretches of four games without a goal, one of six without and a season long of eight games without.
As a fan, it would be nice to see him literally score every other night on top of his occasional two goals per night.
In the end, we can’t expect him to be Hull. He’s not even Sidney Crosby right now but he’s scoring goals at the same rate and perhaps that needs to be enough for those of us that are greedy.