Tarasenko Passes up Lucrative 2-Year KHL Deal
Back from little vacation with the wife and baby in beautiful San Diego, California. If you haven’t been you should take the time to go. Spent time up in the Newport/Laguna Beach area as well and feel reenergized for what is guaranteed to be a busy summer.
The most asked question over the last year might be when will Vladimir Tarsenko join the St. Louis Blues? A 2:30 a.m. wakeup call in Toronto gave GM Doug Arsmtrong the answer he’s long awaited for.
The news of Tarasenko choosing the NHL over the KHL has people with the Blues excited to say the least. He should help bolster the right side of their offense and definitely gives the organization another forward to groom over the next several years.
When you think about David Backes, T.J. Oshie, David Perron, and Patrik Berglund, St. Louis has hit on a number of forwards in the NHL draft going back to 2003.
You can argue they’re still looking for that superstar offensive weapon. Each of the above mentioned players are very talented NHL players and certainly have first line ability but probably fall short of the superstar category. Does Tarasenko have the tools to give the Blues a true star? We’ll soon find out.
Jaden Schwartz will obviously look to make his own mark on the NHL and has a chance to develop into a special player.
Former 2nd round pick Ty Rattie is coming off arguably the best offensive season of any CHL player this past year. He combined for 76 goals and 154 points in the regular season and the playoffs. He has a knack for offense and will be given a chance to play with high end NHL players in training camp. Rattie still needs to add strength to play in the NHL and would probably be best served playing in the American league but at just 19 years-old he isn’t eligible. It will be difficult for him to make the Blues roster but you never know.
Tarasenko does have the advantage of having played four years professionally in the KHL and will turn 21 years-old early next season. This isn’t an 18 or 19 year-old kid jumping straight from NCAA or junior into the NHL.
He will need to make some significant adjustments as he begins a new life in North America. It’s no easy transition going from Russia to the United States but he will have plenty of support surrounding him as he transitions to North America. Not to mention the challenges of playing in the NHL, a much different game than what he’s seen in the KHL. It would be nice if the Blues had another Russian player to help guide Tarasenko over the next few years. Evgeny Grachev is under contract but how he fits in moving forward remains unclear.
Tarasenko will likely to come to St. Louis sometime in July to begin training. There’s a decent chance he works out in Minnesota with a number of NHL players who train there as well. Octagon Hockey, the agency that represents him, holds a pro camp in Minnesota every August in Minnesota with more than 30 NHL players participating.
I’m told he had to notify his KHL team by mid-morning (STL Time) on Saturday where he plans on playing this season. Word is his rights could shift back to Novosibirsk Sibir if he's unable to reach an agreement with St. Petersburg SKA.
CBA rules prevent his contract with the Blues from being registered with the league until July 1st. Had he signed by 5:00 on June first it could have been registered with the NHL. This is one of the more idiotic rules we have in the game today.
GM Doug Armstrong tells me that won’t be an issue. Those close to Tarsenko tell me he isn’t the type of kid to fall back on a commitment even it it’s only verbal. The Blues are hopeful to have him sign the actual contract before July first and are working towards making that happen. Sources say he is still negotiating a KHL contract (likely with Sibir) where he could play some games if there’s an NHL lockout in the fall.
Should the contract be signed before July first the Blues could ask to have it registered now to make it official.
I don’t want to alarm anybody but until the contract is actually signed and registered anything is possible. Sources say there are a number of negative influences over there who will continue to try and push him to stay. Word is his father and grandfather may not be convinced he’s making the right decision by choosing to play in the NHL.
Much of this has to do with the money.
While the long-term financial benefits of playing in the NHL are there, short-term he’s taking a major pay cut. Sources tell me his two-year offer on the table would have paid him greater than $2 million per year with at least $5 million in base pay. $5-$6 million of guaranteed money is nothing to sneeze at but again he could eventually earn that in one season over here should he develop into the player many think he will.
He’s negotiated the maximum “A” bonuses which could pay him an additional $850,000 should he meet the requirements. He will not be paid any “B” bonuses from the team should he earn any league wide awards.
Doug Armstrong and Ken Hitchcock will meet this week to discuss how to round out the rest of the coaching staff. The contracts to Brad Shaw and Ray Bennett expire on June 30th. It appears both coaches would like to return. Goaltending coach Corey Hirsch and Ken Hitchcock each have one year remaining.
Both Hitchcock and Armstrong are in the preliminary stages of putting together a short list of candidates to replace Scott Mellanby. If Shaw returns they will look to add a coach work with the forwards and the power play. Shaw has a pretty good handle on running the defense and orchestrating an effective PK.
Talks with RFA’s and potential UFA’s the Blues want to bring back will pick up over the next few weeks. There have been no conversations with Chris Stewart or T.J. Oshie.
The window for President John Davidson to choose to leave the organization expires this week. Should Davidson elect to stay, the Blues could possibly negotiate a buyout. Davidson has politely declined to comment and it's unclear what will happen with his contract.
The Blues have eleceted not to sign prospect Brock Beukeboom or former 6th round pick Stephen MacAulay of Saint John in the QMJHL. We mentioned a few weeks ago it was unlikely the Blues would sign Beukeboom who was brought over in the Eric Brewer trade. He played the last four seasons in the OHL with two teams.
Former Blues forward Jamal Mayers recently inked a one-year extension to remain with the Chicago Blackhawks. He’ll be paid $550 in salary on top of $50,000 in signing bonus and an additional $50,000 in performance bonus should he play 65 games. He’ll need to play into the 2013-2014 season to reach 1,000 career games.
Devils D-man Bryce Salvador is playing his way into a nice contract extension with his performance in the playoffs. He could fetch a two-year deal paying in excess of $3 million should he explore free agency. He will likely have to accept less to stay with New Jersey.
Talks with Canucks goaltender Corey Schneider remain on hold until the organization decides what to do with Roberto Luongo. He will not sign as long as Luongo is there.
There have been very little talks with Edmonton and goaltender Devan Dubnyk who is a RFA and one year removed from UFA. Dubnyk turned some heads at the World Championships last month and was responsible for all but one Oilers victory after Christmas last season.
It’s not a huge surprise Bob Hartley is the new Head Coach of the Calgary Flames. Word is he could opt out of his Swiss contract for only two teams with the Flames being one of them, the other being Quebec should the city land an NHL club. Hartley and Flames GM Jay Feaster are very close friends and have been for quite some time. Their families are very close as well.
More to come,
The Latest Truth
Post about tonight's Blues-Jets game with your fellow TrueHockey.com fans. Read more
Post about tonight's Isles-Blues game with your fellow TrueHockey.com fans. Read more
Berglund Says He's Full of Confidence
Post about tonight's Blues-Kings game with your fellow TrueHockey.com fans. Read more
Blues Look to Rebound in LA
Post about this afternoon's Blues-Sharks game with your fellow TrueHockey.com fans. Read more