"Hello, dear fans ... I made a decision to stay with Sibir next year… I will try to bring you joy with my game. Thanks to all who supported me."
These are the words of Blues Russian prospect Vladimir Tarasenko, spoken sometime earlier this week. HC Sibir, Tarasenko’s current team in the KHL, posted a video on the front page of their website that featured Tarasenko telling his fans that he would return for the 2011-12 season. The video was posted in Russian and was translated by Yahoo hockey reporter Dmitry Chesnokov.
What does this spell for Blues fans? No Tarasenko for at least one more season.
Fire and brimstone, right? Time to raid Russia and take what is rightfully ours. Tarasenko is a liar to the St. Louis people!
Don’t jump to those conclusions yet. Tarasenko, the Blues’ 16th overall pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, is still under contract for the coming season. He has every right to stay in Russia and play out his contract.
A recent discussion on the LetsGoBlues.com forums made me want to do a little investigating into recent Blues’ history. It’s quite staggering the information that I have received.
We all know of the recent trade that sent Eric Brewer to Tampa Bay. Brewer has gone on to be quite the success thus far in Tampa, scoring one goal and five assists and getting top-defenseman minutes throughout the playoffs. There is a reason for this; Brewer is just the latest successor in Blues’ transaction history involving the one and only Scott Stevens.
It’s true; Brewer is tied in with the Hall-of-Fame defenseman. Take a look at the line that Brewer has followed:
The NHL has their awards so why can’t the Blues have their own? Instead of competing with all 30 teams, the Blues will be battling within the organization to win these awards.
The names of these awards are named after past great Blues. Obviously, everyone cannot be named after Brett Hull and Bernie Federko, so bear with me.
Bernie Federko Trophy (most points) – David Backes (62)
Garry Unger Trophy (most goals scored) – David Backes (31)
Chris Pronger Award (best plus/minus) – David Backes (+32)
Brian Sutter Award (best coach) – Davis PayneThis really is a no-brainer… not because he was extraordinary, but because there is no other choice. Payne posted a 38-33-11 record as the Blues’ head coach this season, placing the Blues in eleventh place in the Western Conference. The positive? He had a very broken team all season that still showed up to compete most nights. When both David Perron and T.J. Oshie were both out of the lineup (including Andy McDonald, Roman Polak, Barret Jackman and others during the stretch), the Blues still posted a 12-15-4 record. While under .500, it is quite the feet when considering that the Blues became the St. Louis Rivermen for a short while.
Detroit was the first to clinch a first-round victory, sweeping the Phoenix Coyotes in four games. Nashville won their first ever playoff series, beating the Anaheim Ducks in six games. Chicago came roaring back from a 3-0 series deficit against Vancouver and forced a game seven, only to lose in overtime. And don’t forget Columbus, who finished last in the division and 16 points out of a playoff spot. Where does that leave the Blues?
With all of the success of the Central Division, the Blues and Blue Jackets have to feel out of the picture. The Blues, who finished ten points out of a playoff spot, still battled against these surging teams in the regular season.
The Blues have proven that they can beat winners. The Blues had a winning record against their Central Division foes this season, going 12-8-4 (the Blues received 28 out of a possible 48 points). They had three Central Division games in a row spanning from December 23 – 28 against the Red Wings, Predators and Blackhawks. The Blues won all three games, outscoring their opponents 9-4 and recording one shutout.
The best performances probably came in the six games played against the Nashville Predators. The Blues went 4-1-1 against the Predators, scoring 14 total goals and allowing just eight goals. Jaroslav Halak shut-out the Predators on three different occasions, which is quite the accomplishment when considering that Nashville finished the first round in six games, yet still are tied for the lead in playoff goals-scored (22 goals for). Simply put: Nashville will score goals when the game counts.
The Blues’ distant future looks very bright. The immediate future could use some work, though.
With the playoffs in full swing, it gives teams like the Blues time to look over their roster a little more closely and decide what is needed for the coming season.
With T.J. Oshie and David Backes leading the offense and Jaroslav Halak the goalie expected to do it all, that leaves one question; who is leading this young defense?
Alex Pietrangelo made a name for himself last year; if not for an archaic NHL rule, he would be up the Calder Trophy as NHL Rookie of the Year. But at the young age of 21, it is tough to assume that this guy can play against the top lines of opposing teams and shut them down every night. He, like Shattenkirk, Nikitin and Cole, needs a veteran defenseman who can show him a few tricks.
Roman Polak is hardly a veteran at this point in his career and Carlo Colaiacovo is steady but is not a guy that can take the reigns and steer the young defense on the ice.