Blues’ Tarasenko keeping focus on hockey following summer trade request

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Any hope that there would be clarity into Vladimir Tarasenko‘s summer trade request from the Blues was dashed when he met the media for the first time on Thursday.

The Blues forward would not explain why he wanted out of St. Louis, saying “it’s all behind” and he did not want to be a distraction for the team.

“My mindset is good,” he said. “Happy to be with the guys. I have good relationships with the guys. It’s been a weird summer, but it’s kind of between us, between me and Doug. I’m here to work. As long as I play here, I will work 100%. I’m 100% healthy. [We’ll] go from here.

Tarasenko missed the opening two months of last season while recouping from shoulder surgery. He’s had three such operations on his left shoulder since 2017. He was limited to only 28 regular-season and playoff games in 2020-21, scoring six goals and recording 16 points.

The 29-year-old forward’s contract carries a $7.5 million cap hit through the 2022-23 season and a no-trade clause. He was left exposed for the NHL Expansion Draft in July, but the Kraken decided to select defenseman Vince Dunn.

No distraction to team

Whatever feelings Tarasenko has towards the organization, his coach and teammates are not worried it will affect the season.

“I really don’t believe it’s a distraction at all,” said head coach Craig Berube. “He’s been here for a while, skating with the guys, being with the guys, hanging out with the guys. I thought he looked excellent out there today. He’s been part this team for a long time. Yeah, things happen in the summertime or things are said. I don’t go into all that, I don’t worry about that. He’s here playing hockey for us, so I coach him. That’s it. It’s not a distraction in my opinion.

“I don’t believe it’s an issue at all. If he wasn’t bought in, I don’t think he’d have been here a month early skating with the guys and working out with the guys and being around. He’s obviously bought in. He’s part of this team. He’s been part of this team his whole career, NHL career. I don’t see a buy-in problem.”

“I think he’s here and he’s a Blue,” said Ryan O'Reilly. “That’s a great thing for us. He’s a great player and we’ve all seen it. He looks very healthy, and he’s been back for a month now skating with guys. He’s here and he’s ready to go. That’s the plan. I think we’re a better team with him, what he can bring. I think it’s going to be good.”

The Blues selected Tarasenko 10th overall in 2010 NHL Draft. In 531 regular season games he’s scored 218 goals and recorded 442 points. Injuries have limited him to only 34 games over the last two seasons.

Tarasenko emphasized that as long as he remains with the team he will continue to be a good teammate and not allow the business-side of things to affect his play.

“As long as I play for the Blues I will work hard and play for the win. We’ve been here for nine years,” Tarasenko said. “We always love [the] St. Louis community. We always try to help the community as much as we can, and like me and my family, we are always grateful to those people who support us these past nine years, especially this past summer. We received a lot of support. We’re really grateful to have this. This is our home. I’m happy to be with the guys. Like I said before, I’m healthy and I’m happy to work.”

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

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