Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Blues Are Targeting Tarasenko

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Blues Are Targeting Tarasenko

Article excerpt

The Stanley Cup playoffs are now complete, the NHL offseason has commenced, and while the Blues have a long "to-do" list this summer, one item sits clearly at the top.

The signing of pending restricted free-agent Vladimir Tarasenko is the No. 1 priority, Blues general manager Doug Armstrong declared last month.

Time remains to reach an agreement, but with Tarasenko eligible to receive outside offer sheets beginning July 1, and with Armstrong's vow that the contract be completed before the club follows up on any other plans, a resolution is of the essence.

Not so, says Armstrong.

"(Tarasenko) knows he's going to be here, we know he's going to be here," Armstrong told the Post-Dispatch. "When it happens, it happens."

Tarasenko, 23, will be wrapping up his entry-level contract at the end of this month, making him an RFA. In three years, he produced 66 goals and 135 points in 179 regular-season games, while posting 10 goals and 11 points in 13 playoff games.

A campaign of 37 goals and 73 points in the 2014-15 regular season placed Tarasenko in the top 10 in the NHL in both categories. He followed that up with six goals and seven points in the team's first-round playoff series loss to Minnesota.

They are numbers that could take the right winger from his entry- level base salary of $900,000 (excluding bonuses) to among the team's top-paid players next season in the neighborhood of center Paul Stastny ($7 million) and defenseman Alex Pietrangelo ($6.5 million).

Stastny signed his four-year, $28 million deal with the Blues last summer as an unrestricted free agent, but Pietrangelo's seven- year, $45.5 million extension inked two years ago came as an RFA.

The agreement with Pietrangelo came a couple of days into training camp, after the defenseman went more than two months without receiving an offer sheet.

They aren't common in the NHL, but they do happen, as Nashville found out in 2012 when Philadelphia signed defenseman Shea Weber to a 14-year, $110 million offer sheet.

The Predators matched, but it put them in a pinch, owing Weber $27 million in the first year of the deal and $68 million over the first six years.

Two weeks before potentially hitting the market, Tarasenko could certainly be considered an attractive target among teams.

Although the Blues would also have the opportunity to match any offer, and Armstrong has said the club would under any circumstance, does he want to face the possibility of paying an increased price tag?

In May, Armstrong said he preferred to have Tarasenko in the fold before July 1, but when asked recently, he said: "No, it doesn't matter to me. We'd like to get it done as soon as both sides are comfortable."

The organization twice attempted to talk with Tarasenko's agent, former goalie Mike Liut, this past season but were turned down both times. They are believed to have spoken this month, but Armstrong declined to disclose any particulars regarding the negotiations and Liut did not return multiple messages from the Post-Dispatch. …

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