Blues, Tarasenko agree to contract
The Blues and their young Russian star agreed to an eight-year, $60 million contract on Tuesday that has an average annual value of $7.5 million. “I think it’s a great day in Blues history to get a player of Vladi’s caliber locked into the organization through the prime of his career,” Armstrong told reporters. “We saw I think just the tip of the iceberg of what Vladi can do in this league last year — highlight-reel goals against New York and again against Minnesota in the playoffs, scoring from distance, scoring from in tight. At such a young age too to show those skills really made this a priority for us to see if we could talk with him and work with him to get him to sign a long-term extension.” Tarasenko, 23, led St. Louis in goals (37), points (73) and plus-minus (plus-27) in 77 games during the 2014-15 regular season. Then he tallied six goals and had seven points in six playoff games. Armstrong said at his season-ending press conference that a new contract for Tarasenko, who was a restricted free agent, was his top priority. The right winger’s new deal makes him the highest paid player on the Blues, surpassing the seven-year, $45.5 million deal defenseman Alex Pietrangelo signed before the 2013-14 season and the $7 million annual average value of the four-year contract center Paul Stastny signed last summer. “I was quite comfortable that it was going to be a lot of money regardless, but getting the term for us was something that our ownership group believed in,” Armstrong said. “Now having Vladimir signed for eight years, having Alex Pietrangelo signed for (that) term, I think the nucleus of our defense and forwards are here for the foreseeable future and we can build around that group.” Tarasenko was a first-round pick (No. 16 overall) in 2010 and has quickly established himself as one of the top scorers in the NHL. He has played in 179 regular season games over his first three seasons and has scored 66 goals and racked up 135 points and a plus-minus rating of plus-48. He has 10 goals and 11 points in 13 career playoff contests. “He’s just scratching the surface of how good he can be,” Armstrong said.