With all the action going on in Doug Armstrong’s office and smartphone, one would think it’s the first few days of free agency. Instead, we’re only two games into the Cup Finals and Blues fans everywhere are clamoring for training camp and the next regular season to start (provided there is no lockout).
Vladimir Tarasenko has that kind of effect on people. He makes us Bluenatics dream of mind boggling goals, Savardian spin-o-ramas, highlight reel shootout moves, and a Calder Cup trophy at the end of next season. I’ll admit, I’ve had those exact thoughts… but I’ve also tampered my own thoughts and reminded myself that this kid is coming over to a new continent, new league, new opponents, and most of all, a whole new team/system and city. His father is no longer his coach. Rather a man by the name of Hitchcock will be instructing him, a man who has a reputation of detesting Russian born players. How will Tarasenko adapt to all that on a team that right now has Evgeny Grachecv as the only other Russian born player?
“The Tank” or “The Russian Jesus” wears #91. So does Tampa Bay Lighting forward Steven Stamkos. If Tarasenko can become anything close to Stamkos, I’ll have no complaints.
Army has also been busy with the signings of Ty Rattie, Jani Hakanpaa, and Jordan Binnington.
Rattie was drafted 32nd overall in last year’s draft. At only 19 years old, the forward led the Western Hockey League’s (WHL) Portland Winterhawks and ranked third overall with 121 points including 57 goals and 64 assists during the 2011-12 regular season.
Hakanpaa (which will be joy to hear Tom Calhoun eventually say) was drafted in the 2010 draft in the fourth round. He recorded 12 points (5 goals and 7 assists) in 41 games as a defensemen with the Blues of SM-liiga, Finland’s top professional league. At least he won’t have to get used to a new team name.
Binnington, a goaltender, was drafted in the 2011 draft by the Blues. He recently completed his third season with the Ontario Hockey League’s (OHL) Owen Sound Attack, posting a 21-17-0-1 record in 39 games which includes a 2.99 goals against average and .906 save percentage. In three seasons with the Attack, Binnington is 54-39-2-6 in 107 games.
It’s likely Tarasenko is the only one of those four prospects to make the big league club next year. Throw in Jaden Schwartz and the Blues add two highly skilled players to an already talented lineup that was just missing some punch last season. Here’s to hoping the new ownership can throw around a few dollars and bring in some veteran skill (I wouldn’t mind seeing Arnott back if he doesn’t retire) and build on the hugely successful 2011-2012 season.
How long until October?