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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Wiber: Blues rookie Vladimir Tarasenko must be brought along carefully

Do you know the feeling of finding out you are getting a new car, but you can’t drive it until all the paperwork is signed?  Well, that is how the St. Louis Blues feel right now regarding their young talent, Vladimir Tarasenko.

Vladimir Tarasenko is a 21 year old Russian who was drafted by the Blues in the 2010 NHL entry draft.  He is probably the most anticipated prospect the Blues have had in the last 20 years.  He is the type of player the Blues have been lacking in recent years. Tarasenko is a pure goal scorer and finisher.

Tarasenko has had pretty impressive numbers for such a young player.  In 207 games played in the KHL he has scored 76 goals and has 65 assists.  In the most recent stint with the KHL, during the NHL lockout, Tarasenko had 31 points in 31 games, with 14 goals and 17 assists.  Not bad for a 21 year old.

Now fans are going to expect 48 goals in 48 games from this rookie this season, and that is not going to happen.

First, he has to get accustomed to the NHL game, which is played on much smaller ice and has a lot more body contact than the KHL.  It is a different game.

Secondly, let the guy get a few minutes with his new teammates.  Hockey is a game built on line chemistry.  More chemistry means better movement and flow for all players on a line.  

This creation of chemistry falls on the shoulders of head coach Ken Hitchcock. Hitch put the line of Perron, Oshie and Berglund together again last year, which sparked some of the best play out of T.J. Oshie that we have seen.

Tarasenko will be a good player and probably, a great player, and the fans and organization have to be patient with him.  Let Tarasenko grow and develop, and the Blues will reap the benefits of drafting this young man.

So, like that new car, don’t slam the pedal down the first chance you get. Drive it responsibly and it will get you place you have never been.

The Blues are hoping Tarasenko will help the organization achieve something they never have before.

Anthony Wiber is a columnist for StlSportsMinute.com and is a main contributor on the Cruddy Show (@CruddyShow), a St. Louis sports talk show that airs on Tuesdays and Fridays at 9:30 pm CT.  You can follow Wiber on Twitter as well (@AWibes).