Tarasenko to Begin Season in KHL Should NHL Lockout Occur
Many have wondered what a potential NHL lockout would mean for St. Louis super-prospect Vladimir Tarasenko. Would he begin the season with the Blues AHL affiliate in Peoria along with other prospects Jaden Schwartz and Ian Cole?
Sources tell me Tarasenko will begin the season in his native Russia and play in the KHL should the NHL labor situation lead to the season being delayed. This isn’t meant to alarm fans of Tarasenko who are eager to see him play in the NHL. He’s signed to play with the Blues this season and barring some unforeseen development he will be here once training camp opens.
It isn’t uncommon to see European players stay in their home Country until a new collective bargain agreement is finalized. I’m told there’s a European assignment clause in Tarasenko’s contract should the CBA circumstances prevent the season from starting on time. These clauses are also inserted in the event the player doesn’t earn a spot on the NHL roster. Making the team shouldn’t be an issue for the former first round draft pick.
Which KHL team Tarasenko suits up for remains a little foggy. While St. Petersburg SKA appears to have his rights I’m told Tarasenko would prefer to play with his hometown club Novosibirsk.
Tarasenko will likely make a trip over to the U.S. and visit St. Louis before the KHL opens up training camp. Word is he’s still getting his work visa finalized and apparently has an appointment to getting everything buttoned up later this week. I’m told he could be in St. Louis sometime around August 20th.
NHL camps will certainly have a different look this fall compared to what we’re used to seeing. If the season is delayed as expected, camps will resemble NHL practices with the AHL and CHL seasons already in full swing.
We normally hear of a “deal in principle” three to four days before an agreement is actually reached. This should allow plenty of time to get European players over here in time to begin NHL training camp.
There’s always a chance, albeit a very small one, of a new CBA being agreed to before the September 15th expiration date. This appears very unlikely as most players I speak to tell me they don’t expect a resolution before this date. How long it takes from there remains to be seen.
D-man Carlo Colaiacovo appears closer to signing an NHL contract although nothing is imminent at this point. The Detroit Red Wings continue to express interest while the Philadelphia Flyers have done the same following a possible season ending injury Andrej Meszaros. Both teams are also exploring trade possibilities which have put a pause in the signing of a number of players including Colaiacovo. Many believe the Shane Doan waiting game is also playing a significant role in the stalled marketplace.
The St. Louis Blues haven’t closed the door on the signing of Colaiacovo either although they may have interest on doing only a one-year deal.
It isn’t often we see an NHL first round draft pick among the first cuts at the National Junior Development camp in Lake Placid, New York. Interestingly enough that’s what happened to North Dakota bound Jordan Schmaltz who the Blues selected 25th overall in June. I’m not suggesting Schmaltz was a lock to make the final roster for the World Junior Tournament this winter but to not be considered one of the top 11 D-men in the camp is shocking.
Until we learned he and his brother Nick Schmaltz turned down the U.S. program in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Not to start any controversy or question the integrity of USA Hockey officials but it’s a bit of a head scratcher that Jordan was unable to crack the top 34 camp roster. We’d be naïve to suggest politics don’t come into play every now and then.
Word is Schmaltz had two points in the three games he played in up in Lake Placid. Most knew he would have to wow the selection committee in order to make the team. With players such as Seth Jones, Jacob Trouba, Brady Skjei, and Connor Murphy likely safe, Schmaltz probably needed to play perfect hockey to land a spot. By all accounts Schmaltz didn’t force the issue. Still, considering his combination of skills one would think he’d find a way to hang around for the final two exhibition games and be among the top 11 D-men in camp.
He still has the first half of next season to make a strong case for himself but he obviously has an uphill battle ahead of him. I’m sure Blues officials are hopeful he has the ability to use this experience as motivation moving forward.
There was some talk Jay Bouwmeester recently gave Calgary GM Jay Feaster a list of teams he’d accept to be trade to. Sources close to the player tell me he has not been asked by anyone with the organization to provide a list nor has he submitted one.
Front Office Shuffling…
Blues GM Doug Armstrong has done some shuffling with the Hockey Operations department promoting now Vice President of Hockey Ops Dave Taylor and Rob Dimaio as the new Director of Pro Scouting. Al Macinnis, who carried the VP of Hockey Ops title the last several years, will now serve as Senior Advisor to the GM. Kevin McDonald remains on as Assistant GM and GM of the Peoria Rivermen.
I’ve mentioned several times that Armstrong leans heavily on both Taylor and Dimaio when it comes to making NHL roster decisions. Their promotions are well deserved and should come as no surprise.
The move allows Macinnis to spend more time following the career of his son Ryan who will play with the U-17 National program in Ann Arbor this fall.
More to come,
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