Vladimir Tarasenko

Blues 2010 first round pick Vladimir Tarasenko is staying in Russia next year

When the St. Louis Blues drafted Russian prospect Vladimir Tarasenko in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft they knew that there would be a risk that he’d stay in Russia a bit longer than even the team might like. Some Russian players enjoy the comfort of playing at home rather than coming to North America to potentially slog away in the AHL.

As it turns out, Tarasenko is going to do the thing that works out easiest for both him and the Blues and he’ll be playing once again next season in the KHL.

Blues GM Doug Armstrong says that he doesn’t have any disagreement with Tarasenko’s decision to stay another year in the Russian professional league.

“At the end of the day, (Tarasenko) feels that it’s best for his development to spend one more season in the KHL, and we certainly support that decision,” Armstrong said. “At that age, 19, I’m sure he had to take a look at all the different options he had. Obviously he felt that playing in the KHL, and staying in an environment he was comfortable with, will increase his development and make him a better player in North America when he gets here.”

Tarasenko plays for Sibir in the KHL and this upcoming season will be his fourth there. Last season he scored nine goals and had ten assists as a 19 year-old. At six feet tall and 192 pounds, the Blues hope that he’ll eventually become a force as a forward for a Blues team that’s getting younger and more talented while building through the draft and via trades.

While the Blues should have some worries that Tarasenko will want to stay in Russia, the lure of playing in the NHL is strong. That said, he could end up staying there until the team is ready to offer him a spot with the big club without the threat of riding a bus in the minor leagues. Other highly drafted Russians haven’t had good fortune when coming over.

Blue Jackets prospect Nikita Filatov, for example, has found life to be rough in the Columbus organization since being the sixth overall pick by the Jackets in 2008. In 44 career NHL games, Filatov has six goals and seven assists. Last season Filatov was allowed to go to the KHL to play full time there, while this year he spent in Springfield of the AHL. That sort of up and down life isn’t appealing to most prospects, but to those from Russia who have the option to stay in the KHL that can be more attractive. We’ll see what ends up happening with Tarasenko in the years to come.

Another North Dakota junior goes pro as Blackhawks sign Luke Johnson

Quinnipiac forward Tommy Schutt, left, moves the puck as North Dakota forward Luke Johnson, middle, checks Quinnipiac forward Travis St. Denis during the first period of an NCAA college hockey tournament game Friday, March 27, 2015, in Fargo, N.D. North Dakota won 4-1. (AP Photo/Bruce Crummy)
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Another day, another University of North Dakota player deciding to enter the professional hockey ranks.

This time, it was 21-year-old forward Luke Johnson who turned pro following his junior year, as he signed a three-year contract with the Chicago Blackhawks, the team that selected him in the fifth round of the 2013 NHL Draft.

In 43 games with the NCAA champions this season, Johnson scored 11 goals and 21 points, three off his college career high set the previous year.

Johnson will forgo his senior year at North Dakota, bumping the number of players from that program’s junior class to turn pro to four since the end of the season. Keaton Thompson signed with the Anaheim Ducks, Troy Stecher inked with the Vancouver Canucks and Paul LaDue signed with the L.A. Kings.

Senior forward Drake Caggiula, now a free agent, has reportedly narrowed down his list of NHL suitors to six teams.

Brock Boeser, a 2015 first-round pick and coming off an impressive freshman year, will return to North Dakota for his sophomore year, as per Canucks general manager Jim Benning earlier this month.

Video: Black cat hits the ice before Sharks-Predators Game 1

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Perhaps it’s an ominous sign of bad luck to come, but for which team?

Prior to puck drop between the host San Jose Sharks and Nashville Predators in Game 1 on Friday, a black cat hit the ice at SAP Center, taking a nervous stroll along the boards.

Not sure exactly where it came from, although it’s possible someone was feeling extra superstitious before the start of this series.

Official update on the really important story of the evening:

Speed, skill help Stars score late victory to take series lead over Blues

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The Dallas Stars scored a late winner, held on in the final minute and eventually struck first in their best-of-seven second-round series with the St. Louis Blues.

Once again, it was the speed and skill of the Stars that proved to be the difference in the end. Radek Faksa scored with less than five minutes remaining in the third period, breaking the deadlock and giving Dallas a 2-1 victory and 1-0 series lead over their Central Division foes on Friday.

As he entered the zone on the rush, Faksa dished off to a flying Ales Hemsky, who was denied by Brian Elliott in alone. But Faksa followed up, jamming in the rebound to give the Stars the lead, as both St. Louis defensemen Jay Bouwmeester and Alex Pietrangelo were caught by the speed of the Dallas forwards on the rush.

The Stars held on from there, as the Blues made a late push to tie the game.

Kari Lehtonen stopped 31 of 32 shots for Dallas, while Elliott was busy throughout the night, stopping 40 of 42 shots.

Elliott was furious after the Stars opened the scoring in the second period, as Antoine Roussel tallied on a rebound after yet another nice Dallas passing play in the offensive zone.

Stars forward Patrick Eaves left the game early in the third period and didn’t play another shift after being hit in the lower part of his leg with the puck from a point shot.

 

Video: Roussel opens the scoring for Dallas and Elliott wasn’t happy about it

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The Dallas Stars grabbed the all-important first goal in Game 1 against the St. Louis Blues on Friday. And it was agitating forward Antoine Roussel who capitalized in the second period.

Roussel buried a rebound at the end of a pretty passing play from the Stars. Blues goalie Brian Elliott was furious, as defenseman Jay Bouwmeester slid into the crease in an attempt to block the shot.