The second-youngest player named to the Russian Olympic team, Vladimir Tarasenko is still in a state of disbelief.
“I still can’t believe it,” Tarasenko said, per NHL.com. “It’s a dream of everybody in Russia to make the Olympics. The Olympics is the highest point of hockey. I’m so excited right now.”
Of the players on the Russian team, only Dallas’ 18-year-old rookie, Valeri Nichushkin, is younger than Tarasenko who — at age 22 — is enjoying a tremendous sophomore campaign in St. Louis. Tarasenko sits third on the Blues in goals, with 15, and is averaging over 15 minutes a night after getting around 13-and-a-half during his rookie year.
All told, he’s already notched a career-high in points (28) and sits fourth among all Russian skaters in scoring, trailing only Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin and Pavel Datsyuk.
Tarasenko figures to be a key cog for the Russians in Sochi. The team is top-heavy at forward but will need contributions from all four lines, especially when matched up against teams with depth on defense. As for what kind of role Tarasenko will fill? Blues GM Doug Armstrong says he could play one similar to that of his high-energy teammates in St. Louis.
“I said it at the time and I’ll say it again: He’s the Russian version of T.J. Oshie with his attitude,” Armstrong explained. “He’s smiling, happy, loves hockey, wants to be around the rink.”