2010 prospects: Vladimir Tarasenko

By HF Staff

Vladimir Tarasenko, a skilled and highly touted Russian right winger, is playing his second season in the KHL. Last year he was second in voting for Rookie of the Year in the KHL right after goalie Ilya Proskuryakov and this year he’s third in scoring on his team Sibir Novosibirsk. He’s among top draft prospects eligible for 2010 NHL Entry Draft. Tarasenko was just ranked second among European skaters in NHL Central Scouting’s mid-term rankings.

Tarasenko is a very good goal scorer with quick hands and lethal shot. He sees the ice well and owns playmaking skills too. He likes to play hard and is strong on his skates.

The 5’11, 202-pounder has played for national team since 2008. At the recent WJC, Tarasenko was third in scoring with four goals and one assist. He played on the second line with Alexander Burmistrov (2010) of the Barrie Colts.

Tarasenko’s 18 points (10 goals, 8 assists) in 28 KHL games is the best in the KHL in his age group. He just turned 18 in December.

Andrei Tarasenko, Vladimir’s father, is the head coach of Sibir Novosibirsk, so he sees him both as a coach and a father.

“Do I worry about my son’s overall draft pick number? No, not really," Mr. Tarasenko told Hockey’s Future. "We don’t think about that right now. We’ve got an agent who deals with it. He knows quite a few North American scouts, plus he used to work overseas as well. But, once again, we don’t really want to get ahead of anything. I can only say that Vladimir has already accomplished a lot but in terms of his career this is just a beginning. After this season we’ll discuss everything with his grandfather and make up new goals for Vladimir. It’s time to prove all the fuss about him was worth it.”

On what he thought of Russian junior players going to the CHL to play, Tarasenko said, “I can only say that it’s complicated. There are those who achieve something and there are also those that disappear. Just think about it – you’re a 17-year-old kid who goes there on your own. Maybe deep in his heart, that’s something that Vladimir wants. But it’s very important to choose the right moment to do that. We want it to be a step forward, not a step back.

“I think it’s important for my son to stay [in Russia] for awhile, gain experience and become a respected hockey player. CHL – is a junior league. In Russia he plays against men. I think it’s better even comparing to Canadian juniors. Again it’s very difficult to be abroad without any relatives or close friends. There’s got to be someone to lend a hand or advice when he needs it. Vladimir is a kind of guy that needs somebody to support him.”

Hockey’s Future spoke to Vladimir Tarasenko in his native Russian about himself as a player, looking ahead to the future. 

HF: How would you describe yourself as a player?
VT: I’m very good team player. Like everyone I have strong and weak sides as a player. I play Alexander Ovechkin-style. I like very much to score goals and like the physical aspect of the game too.

HF: What are your biggest strengths?
VT: Definitely my shot and acceleration, as well as a positional attack and defense.

HF: What aspect of your game do you feel you need to work most on?
VT: I need learn a defensive aspect of the game more and read the game defensively quicker and better.

HF: Do you have a favorite player?
VT: No I don’t. It was my father when he was playing but right now I have no favorite player.

HF: Have you heard people making comparisons between you and current NHL players?
VT: Yes. They compared me with Alexander Ovechkin and Evgeny Malkin.

HF: Why do you wear #91?
VT: The answer is simple – it’s my year of birth. I wanted to wear #10 but it was not available so I took #91.

HF: What do you do in your spare time?
VT: I have no so much off time. I like to spend my spare time with my friends. But I have no time for a particular hobby.

HF: Do you have a favorite NHL team?
VT: I haven’t. When the NHL games are playing in Russia it’s deep in the night so it’s very difficult to watch them. I need to sleep and have rest to be in good shape for my games and trainings. I always liked the Detroit Red Wings but as I said there’s no team in the NHL that I really like more than others.

HF: Any thoughts about upcoming NHL Entry Draft?
VT: I have to play my best and show all that I can do. It’s important to play very well at the WJC and then we will see what will happen. If I play very well at WJC I think I get high number in NHL Entry Draft. My game will show everything.

HF: Where do you see yourself in five years?
VT: I see myself in the NHL.

Andrey Osadchenko and Grigory Orekhovsky contributed to this article.