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.

Fight video: Someone other than Evander Kane beats up Alex Petrovic

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Bummed out on this holiday? Look on the bright side: at least you’re not as sore as Florida Panthers defenseman Alex Petrovic likely is right now.

Not long after suffering three defeats at the hands/fists of Evander Kane, Petrovic likely lost another bout to Nashville Predators tough guy Anthony Bitetto.

(Note: some might consider this more of a draw, for what it’s worth. You can watch that latest fight in the video above.)

Hey, at least Bitetto didn’t taunt Petrovic after their fight …

It was a rough night for the Panthers overall, as they suffered a gruesome injury or two and fell to the Predators by a score of 5-0.

Outdoor game rumors: Jets host Oilers, Red Wings at Maple Leafs

The Toronto Maple Leafs and the Detroit Red Wings face off during the first period of the Winter Classic outdoor NHL hockey game at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Mich., Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2014. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
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Love is in the air on Valentine’s Day, and so are rumors about hockey fans bundling up for outdoor games next season.

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman went over two possible outdoor matchups coming for 2016-17 during Saturday’s Headlines segment.

A smart move for a potential game in Winnipeg: Imagine the Jets hosting a game in Winnipeg in February? Ilya Bryzgalov almost turned off his TV in protest.

Instead, Sportsnet’s John Shannon reports that the Jets are likely to host the Edmonton Oilers in October. That would be a smart logistical move, as long as it isn’t too hot.

(Also, playing it then would hopefully increase the odds of the mainstream sporting public seeing Connor McDavid in an outdoor game.)

Toronto’s turn: Friedman reports that the Toronto Maple Leafs are likely to host the Detroit Red Wings in the 2017 Winter Classic (or at least an outdoor game), almost certainly on New Year’s Day 2017.

The two teams combined for a great Winter Classic at Ann Arbor in 2014, so that could be a fun time.

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Keep in mind these are reports (and well-placed ones at that) rather than official announcements for the NHL. These things could always change.

Related: Could the Penguins host the Flyers outdoors next season, too?

Ducks likely to recall Khudobin after Gibson injury

Chicago Blackhawks' Richard Panik (14), of Slovakia, collides with Anaheim Ducks goalie John Gibson (36) during the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Chicago. Anaheim won 3-2 in overtime. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
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“Costly victories” may have been one of the themes of Saturday night, as some teams paired impressive wins with worrisome injuries.

The good news is that, in each case, it appears that the early word is optimistic about those players (Tyler Seguin got stitched up in the Stars’ win, for example).

The Anaheim Ducks are reportedly readying to recall Anton Khudobin on Sunday after John Gibson suffered an upper-body injury during a collision with Chicago Blackhawks forward Richard Panik.

Again, so far the hope/expectation is that this might not be a major issue:

The pessimistic take would be to wonder “Uh oh, is the Ducks goalie carousel starting again?”

Frederik Andersen has seen some runs as Anaheim’s No. 1 guy, so maybe this issue is a reminder that the Ducks may be better off keeping both Gibson and Andersen around … at least while they can.

Stars end Capitals’ winning streak, pass Blackhawks for West lead

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For two periods, the Dallas Stars seemed to say, “Are you sure the Washington Capitals are the best team in the NHL?”

They chased Braden Holtby and built a 4-0 lead through those first 40 minutes, and that was enough … but barely. The Stars beat the Capitals 4-3 on Saturday, which accomplished the following:

  • Dallas ended Washington’s winning streak at five games. The Stars have now won three straight.
  • This win slides the Stars ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks for first place in the highly competitive Central Division. While both teams sit at 77 standings points, Dallas holds three games in hand.
  • By passing Chicago, the Stars now lead the Western Conference as a whole.

Impressive stuff. Some might even call it a statement game, although others may hold that nail-biting ending against them (possibly arguing that the Stars’ flaws may come back to haunt them in the playoffs).

Dallas’ biggest concern likely has little to do with doubters. Instead, they must monitor the statuses of forwards Tyler Seguin and Cody Eakin.

Long story short, the Stars are red-hot, yet bigger challenges likely lie ahead.