HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- As Vladimir Tarasenko walked into the crowded room set up for his introductory press conference Thursday, the 20-year-old was in awe.
The St. Louis Blues' prospect will need some time to get used to the NHL life -- which includes well-attended press conferences -- but getting Tarasenko here and getting him acclimated with his teammates is the first step, one he finally was willing to take after opting to leave the KHL for the NHL.
Tarasenko, who was the 16th pick in the 2010 NHL Draft -- chosen two spots after the Blues selected Jaden Schwartz -- had 100 points in 176 KHL games spanning four seasons. The Past two were spent playing with Sibir Novosibirsk and SKA St. Petersburg.
However, Tarasenko said it felt like the time was right to jump across the Atlantic Ocean and play in what he called the best league in the world.
"I am very excited to be here in St. Louis, to be playing for the St. Louis Blues," Tarasenko said through a translator. "I am happy to help the team win the Stanley Cup this year.
"I have received very good experience in the last two years in the KHL, and I believe this is the right time for me. I am ready to play in the best league in the world."
The Blues, who won the Central Division last season, finished second in the Western Conference with 109 points and reached the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, see Tarasenko as a top-nine forward. Blues general manager Doug Armstrong said he also believes the time is right for Tarasenko to make the transition.