"Vladimir is very effective around the net with his excellent overall skill level and vision. He is a strong, mobile skater with a quick shot. He is not only a sniper, but also a good passer and playmaker. There are no real weaknesses in his overall game and he will be one of the most interesting prospects at the draft."
-- Goran Stubb, NHL Director of European Scouting
Vladimir Tarasenko may be an elite-level prospect, but the 5-foot-11, 202-pound right wing admitted to feeling butterflies before last spring's World Under-18 Championship.
Evidently he got them out of his system.
Tarasenko had team-highs of 8 goals and 15 points -- second in the event in both categories -- as Russia took home the silver medal. Tarasenko also earned a spot on the tournament all-star team.
"It was an extremely valuable experience to play against the best in the world," Tarasenko told NHL.com through an interpreter. "After I had that experience, I no longer get nervous to play international."
The way Tarasenko has been performing, there's not much on the ice that should bother him.
Tarasenko, in his second season with Novosibirsk in Russia's Kontinental Hockey League, is second on the team with 10 goals and 17 points in 28 games, while playing just 11:47 per game. He also was NHL Central Scouting's top-rated Russian skater in its preliminary rankings for the 2010 Entry Draft. He also was invited to the final tryout camp for Russia's entry to the 2010 World Junior Championship.
Having just turned 18 on Dec. 13, he's the sixth-youngest player in the KHL.
"He's a classical Russian winger," NHL Director of European Scouting Goran Stubb told NHL.com. "He's an exceptional talent who will probably be even better than his father was. Vladimir is very effective around the net with his excellent overall skill level and vision. He is a strong, mobile skater with a quick shot. He is not only a sniper, but also a good passer and playmaker. There are no real weaknesses in his overall game and he will be one of the most interesting prospects at the draft."
Tarasenko's father, Andrei, was a right wing for 21 seasons in Russia. He led the Russian Hockey League in scoring with 60 points in 46 games in 1996-97, and represented Russia at the 1994 Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway, scoring 2 goals in eight games.
Andrei was smaller, at 5-10 and 178 pounds, and Vladimir said their styles of play are different. Andrei did, however, pass on his knowledge and love of the game to his son.
"I learned quite a lot from my father," Tarasenko said.
Vladimir said he knows all of his father's stats, but he doesn't compare himself to his dad -- yet.
"My father played at a time when hockey had a different style," said Tarasenko. "He was 19 when he played Russian hockey. When I turn 19, I'll compare myself to my father."
Andrei Tarasenko accomplished much during his career, but he never played in North America. Vladimir has his eyes set on making it big on this side of the Atlantic.
"Every young player would like to play in the NHL and win the Stanley Cup," said Tarasenko. "Every young player, I think, has a dream of winning the Stanley Cup, Olympic Games and World Championship."
Contact Adam Kimelman at email@example.com.