HAZELWOOD, Mo. - Vladimir Tarasenko will be a Blue for the foreseeable future.
Blues General Manger Doug Armstrong announced Tuesday that the club had signed the 23-year-old forward to an eight-year, $60 million contract.
“It’s a great day in Blues history to get a player of Vladi’s caliber locked into the organization through the prime of his career,” Armstrong said. “I think we saw just the tip of the iceberg of what he can do in the League. A highlight-reel goal in New York, again against Minnesota in the playoffs, scoring from distance, scoring from in tight…at such a young age, to show these skills, it really made it a priority for us to see if we could work with him to a long-term extension.”
Tarasenko had a breakout season in 2014-15, sharing 10th in the NHL overall with 73 points, fifth with 37 goals and seventh with a plus-27 rating. He became the youngest Blue to record a 30-goal season since Brendan Shanahan (1991-92) and the first Blue overall to log 73 total points since Pavol Demitra in 2002-03.
"First of all, I want to say thank you to Tom Stillman, Doug Armstrong and the Blues organization to trust me a lot in giving me this contract," Tarasenko said on a conference call Wednesday. "For us, this is a great opportunity to be better and win multiple times. When you have family, this is important for you that you know you can stay in the same place and if your family loves this place and if I love this place, there's no other options.
"We talk with Doug a lot about it and my role on the team. I like everything that he told me and he told to my agent," Tarasenko added. "I talked with my family, I talked with my wife and we make a good decision together."
Overall, Tarasenko has 135 points (66 goals, 69 assists) in 179 regular season games.
“He’s really excited to be a Blue,” Armstrong said. “His main focus in our conversations were ‘what are we going to do to win the Stanley Cup?’ He never broached the economics with me. He wants the assurance that we were going to push and prod and do what we could to get better.
“His thirst to win outweighs everything else,” Armstrong added. “He’s a competitor. Obviously we know he loves to score goals, but he does think of the team above that. It’s a testament to why he plays the game.”
Tarasenko made his first career NHL All-Star Game appearance in January in Columbus. He also was named a 2014-15 Second-Team All-Star. In addition, he became just the second Blue in club history (Brett Hull) to score a hat-trick that included a game-winning overtime goal (Oct. 28 vs. Dallas).
In the 2015 postseason, Tarasenko tied for the overall League lead in goals (six) and shared third in overall points (seven) through the first round. In Game 2 against Minnesota, he became the first Blue to record a postseason hat trick since 2004.
“I believe that Vladi showed us things last year that I haven’t seen, and talking to other general managers, they enjoy watching Vladi play. They turn on the Blues to see what he’s going to do,” Armstrong said. “You look at his playoff performance, he can score at the most important time of the year. You look at his even strength goals this year - he’s just scratching the surface of how good he can be.”