HAZELWOOD, Mo. - Vladimir Tarasenko was back on the ice Monday, less than four months after undergoing reconstructive surgery on his left shoulder.
Tarasenko, who was injured in the final game of the regular season last year, appears to be on track with his recovery, if not slightly ahead of schedule.
"I need to talk about it with the doctors more, but I'm cleared to skate with the group, but only with some contact right now," Tarasenko told stlouisblues.com after an informal practice with several teammates on Monday. "But I can shoot. I feel great and I feel stronger. I'm ready for the season."
Tarasenko wasn't expected to be re-evaluated by the Blues again until training camp in September, but over the last week, he's been skating at the Ice Zone and honing that patented shot as training camp looms in the not-too-distant future.
His offseason rehab has primarily focused on re-establishing the full range of motion in his shoulder. With that completed, now he's working on regaining all of his strength.
"I just follow the instructions, just what the doctors say," he said. "This last three and a half months was pretty tough, both mentally and physically, too. Lots of rehab stuff, and it was the longest break ever between seasons (for me). But you just listen to the doctors and therapist and what they tell you and just follow the plan."
Video: Tarasenko back on the ice after shoulder surgery
Tarasenko's plan for the upcoming season is to get the Blues back into the postseason, and hopefully doing more beyond that.
Last season, the 26-year-old forward recorded a team-best 33 goals in 80 games. He also finished second on the club in points with 66. But despite those individual accolades, Tarasenko instead wants to put the team's success first.
"It's tough if the puck doesn't go in or you don't reach your team goals or whatever," he said. "It's hard, but now you're more motivated, I think. I think that's everybody in this locker room. We just need to prove we're a good team in this League, and not only a good team, but the best team."
Tarasenko said he is excited about the club's offseason additions like Ryan O'Reilly, Tyler Bozak, David Perron and Pat Maroon.
"The new guys are nice, too, and I've heard a lot of good stuff about them," he said. "I think they will fit perfectly in our team, especially after last year's disappointment. We have to play better to reach our goal, finally.
"If coach puts us together, I'll be excited," he added of the new additions. "It's going to be a fun year. I can't wait to get together with all the new guys and start the season."