Much-anticipated Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko arrived in St. Louis last night via Siberia, and he wasted no time hopping onto the ice to participate in informal skates with the members of the team who're in town. He skated today at The Ice Zone at St. Louis Outlet Mall, the last member of the team in town for an abbreviated training camp assumed to begin on Sunday.
Coach Ken Hitchcock has been vocal in his plans to place Tarasenko on a line with Andy McDonald and Alex Steen. Future linemate McDonald had this to say about the young Russian:
"I think he’s a pretty complete player," added McDonald after skating with Tarasenko on Friday. "His awareness, his ability to get the puck, he’s got a great shot…just the awareness thing is a huge factor. Call it awareness or call it hockey sense, but your ability to read the play, where your teammates are around you, where the defenders are…players like that make it easy to play with."
"It’s a precamp skate, so it’s very different from what camp will be and what games will be. But from what I pick up, (Tarasenko) is very intelligent. He doesn’t seem shy to talk and that’s very important. He’s a very good hockey player."
Tarasenko is all but a lock to start the season with the Blues. He had a stellar KHL season, though part of that was playing on a line with New Jersey Devils star Ilya Kovalchuk.