By Brian Feldman, HockeyStL
All the talk this offseason regarding the Blues was about change. Who that was here already wouldn’t be when the 2015-16 season started? Who not in the organization would be brought in here? This is a team that’s lost in the first round of the playoffs too many consecutive years to just stand pat.
Well, sometimes the best moves are the moves which keep the status quo. And the Blues signing superstar forward Vladimir Tarasenko to an eight-year, $60 million contract is just that.
“I think it’s a great day in Blues history to get a player of (Tarasenko’s) caliber into the organization for the prime of his career,” GM Doug Armstrong said during a press conference at the St. Louis Mills. “We saw what I think is just the tip of the iceberg what Vladi can do in this league.”
If that’s true, that’s scary for the rest of the NHL. The 23-year old tied for 10th in the league with 73 points, including 37 goals and a +27 rating. He’s the youngest Blue to have a 30-goal season since Brendan Shanahan back in 1991-92 while also making his first All-Star Game appearance.
Armstrong said his biggest fear regarding losing Tarasenko wasn’t the other 29 teams in the NHL. He says possibly losing the star forward back to his home country of Russia to play in the KHL was much more worrisome.
In the end, Armstrong appealed to Tarasenko’s competitive nature and playing in the greatest league on Earth.
“If Vladimir wants to be the best player in the world and compete against the best players he has to do it in this league. It’s like LeBron James playing in the Italian League or Jordan Spieth playing in the Web.com tour. It doesn’t really matter if you win there. It matters if you win here,” Armstrong said.
This signing of the Blues’ 1st round pick back in 2010, combined with defenseman Alex Pietrangelo’s long term deal signed two years ago, means the core of the team is in St. Louis for a while.
“The nucleus of our forwards and our defense are here for the foreseeable future and we can build around that group,” Armstrong said.
Now it’s just a matter of who will join those two in that nucleus to make a run at the team’s first ever Stanley Cup.