Blues 2021-22 Report Cards: Vladimir Tarasenko

The St. Louis Blues 2021-22 season represented a major transition for the franchise. No longer a stout defensive team built from the blueline out, they finished second in the NHL in goals scored, with nine forwards recording 20-plus goals. Though the season came to an end in a six-game defeat by the Colorado Avalanche in the second round, there are plenty of highs and lows to reflect on. In this series, we’ll evaluate each player who played 10 or more games with the team (as well as the head coach and general manager), grading their individual performance and looking at their future with the team.

As a key leader and member of the St. Louis Blues organization, Vladimir Tarasenko proved all of the doubters and naysayers wrong this season. Drafted 16th overall during the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, the two-time all-star and 2019 Stanley Cup champion had a rollercoaster of a season and one Blues fans should mark as a pivotal point in his career.

What Went Right: Health and Offense

The collective praise and celebration for Tarasenko this season was one for the ages. The 30-year-old forward scored 34 goals and 82 points over 75 games this season, a new career-high in points. While the point totals should not come as a surprise for someone who has collected 523 points over 606 regular-season games, the fact that he is still adding points while in a Blues uniform is a positive sign for the future. This past offseason, the Russian forward publicly requested a trade from the only organization he has known, citing his offseason shoulder surgeries and trust between he and the organization had been fractured. 

Vladimir Tarasenko St. Louis Blues
Vladimir Tarasenko, St. Louis Blues (Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images)

However, the trade request was put to bed and he and the team moved past what could have been a disaster of a season had Tarasenko chosen to let the request and feelings seep into the season and disrupt the locker room. Moving forward, he performed better this past season, finding new chemistry with newly acquired Russian teammate Pavel Buchnevich and Robert Thomas as his new center. He maintained a steady pace of points over the regular season while remaining on the ice for 75 games, the most he has played since 2018-19 when he suited up for 76.

What Went Wrong: Playoff Production

For the third season in a row, Tarasenko was an inconsistent element in the postseason. While his six goals and nine points over 12 playoff games seem good on paper, half of his goal output came during Game 5 against the Minnesota Wild when he scored three goals. However, the team was fortunate enough to receive additional scoring support and timely saves from Jordan Binnington to help vault them into the second round.

Related: Blues’ Tarasenko Should Win Masterton Award

During the second round against the Colorado Avalanche, Tarasenko was once again bottled up by the opposition and made a non-factor. Collecting one goal and two assists over six games, he averaged only 2.67 shots on goal per game – 0.4 fewer shots on goal per game than his regular-season pace. The Blues will need him and his elite offensive abilities moving forward if they want to push deeper into the playoffs next year.

Key Facts

  • Career-high 82 points in 75 games
  • 34 goals were his highest since 2016-17
  • 14.8 shooting percentage was the second-highest of his career (the highest being 15.4 percent during 2013-14)

Final Grade: A

Despite the inconsistent performance in the postseason, offseason trade rumors, and passing over in the Expansion Draft by the Seattle Kraken, the 2021-22 season resulted in a team-leading 82 points for Tarasenko and set the stage for what could be a very productive future in St. Louis.

What’s Next for Tarasenko?

Finding consistent linemates and teammates to build around has seemingly helped reaffirm his love for the city of St. Louis and the only team he has played for in the NHL. The shoulder injuries seem to be only a minor factor moving forward and his future is looking as bright as ever. If all goes according to plan, the Blues have found themselves a very productive trio of Thomas, Buchnevich, and Tarasenko. He has one year left remaining on his contract with a salary-cap hit of $7.5 million and a full no-trade clause should he or the front office entertain the notion of a trade.

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