Former St. Louis Blues star Vladimir Tarasenko is playing for more than a second Cup

Vladimir Tarasenko, suiting up for the Florida Panthers and seeking his second Cup in his NHL career, is playing for much more than another championship. Tarasenko, a reliable veteran, is playing for respect and to prove doubters wrong.
2024 Stanley Cup Final - Game One
2024 Stanley Cup Final - Game One / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

It’s a regular occurrence in professional sports for star veteran players like Vladimir Tarasenko to face recurring injuries, which has resulted in many GMs and hockey pundits dismissing their careers.

Since being traded away from the St. Louis Blues last year, Tarasenko has played for the New York Rangers, Ottawa Senators, and Florida Panthers.

Playing in his second Stanley Cup Finals, now as a member of the Florida Panthers, Tarasenko’s journey around the NHL has positioned him as a reliable and proven veteran in the Panthers locker room.

Tarasenko is playing for much more than a second Cup

Who would have ever guessed Tarasenko would be a journeyman? Tarasenko, a scoring threat, has been named an All-Star multiple times and is the fifth leading goal scorer in the history of the St. Louis Blues franchise.

However, injuries took a toll on Tarasenko. The departure from St. Louis was written all over the wall for several years, with Tarasenko’s vocal displeasure regarding the front office and medical staff.

Blues fans envisioned a career only in St. Louis, but when injuries struck, and a bit of bad blood brewed, Tarasenko’s time in St. Louis ended.

Tarasenko’s days of playing 17 to 19 minutes per game have ended. This season, splitting time with the Ottawa Senators and Florida Panthers, Tarasenko has played an average of roughly 15 minutes per game. He was on the ice in game one of the Stanley Cup Finals for 12:22.

At 32 years old, he still has youth that can help propel him to extend his career, granted he stays healthy. He signed a one-year contract with Ottawa before being traded to Florida, worth $5 million.

It’s almost hard to believe that a 32-year-old multiple All-Star didn’t garner more lucrative contract offers or interest, but this is the story in sports. Injuries scare suitors away.

Tarasenko is playing for his NHL future, and being a member of the Florida Panthers gives him the best opportunity to showcase his existing talent.

As a member of the Florida Panthers, Tarasenko has scored decisive playoff goals, recording 3 total. His name has regularly been heard, as he has aggressively attacked the net, with 30 shots on goal.

Tarasenko might not be the player from his early days in St. Louis, but he’s certainly not washed up.

Ottawa appeared to be the ideal match, a struggling team searching for an identity that required a skilled and experienced goal scorer. However, Florida sought Tarasenko’s services, allowing his talent to assist them in crucial postseason play. The trade has paid off.

After the season concludes, Tarasenko will be an unrestricted free agent.

Will he garner more attention? Would he consider staying in Florida to perhaps be a veteran among a potential dynasty? Or does he seek to regain his old form and be a star on an up-and-coming team?

Whatever Tarasenko's decision, he’s playing for a longer deal and seeking to prove doubters wrong.

The hockey world shouldn’t give up on Tarasenko. For every injury-plagued season he has encountered in the past few seasons, no injury can replace his heart and commitment to excellence.

Tarasenko’s not done yet.