Russian Prospects: Calgary Flames’ Andrei Taratukhin

By Eugene Belashchenko

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Talent Analysis:

Andrei Taratukhin will not blow you away with his average and unimpressive 6’0 and 190lb size. He does, however, more then make up for it with his other qualities. Andrei is a type of player who will not stand out with his individual feats but is an irreplaceable component that makes his partners look like super stars. He possesses excellent hockey sense and uses it well as a team player. According to a Finnish observer at the 2001 U18 World Junior Championships, he “seems to be a good (smart) team player, makes those little screens (obstructions) and “holding opponents sticks”, so his teammates could take a good shot or make a move”. Andrei is also an excellent passer. His determination and great work ethic should also be added to his resume. He is a kind of a player who coach’s love to have – is not intimidated by a couple of hits and continues to work hard no matter what. According to the Finnish observer, “Taratuhin is a good, diligent puck digger, and he knows what to do with the puck when he gets it.” Hockey News also added that Andrei is “noticed for willingness to play in traffic…is good down low”. Andrei’s “average” nature in some categories is his main impediment. Andrei Taratukhin has an average shot and is only an average skater. If you consider this along with his average size, he could face possible problems in the more physical North American hockey. 

Back In Russia:

Andrei Taratukhin has been raised in Avangard Omsk’s hockey system. He first debuted on the team’s junior farm team Avangard VDV 1998-99 season. The 1999-00 season was very successful for Andrei with Avangard VDV (16 points (10+6)), which earned him a promotion to Avangard Omsk’s main team for numerous practices and even for a single playoff game where he registered an assist. Ever since youth hockey Andrei has played with the same linemates – Alexander Perezhogin and Alexander Golovin. This past season this has been Avangard VDV’s most dangerous and highest scoring line. Perezhogin lead the line in scoring with 71 points ( 47+24), while Taratukhin himself scored 47 points (19+28), which is good enough for 3rd in scoring. All three players from Andrei’s line being drafted into the NHL in the 2001 Entry Draft. Next season Taratukhin will fight for a spot in Avangard’s main lineup. With the possibility of some members of his line staying behind in the Juniors, it remains to be seen how he plays with different linemates.

International Competition:

Andrei Taratukhin joined the Russian National U18 and 1983 DOB during the 2000-01 season. He participated in all major tournaments including the U18 World Junior Championships where the Russian Team won the gold medal. At the Five Nations Tournament in Salt Lake City Andrei Taratukhin made a major case for himself as a supporting cast type player by setting up his partners Stanislav Chistov and Alexander Perezhogin 9 times in just 4 games. He performed very well at the World Junior Championships in Finland, constantly fighting for the puck and setting up his partners, Alexander Perezhogin and Alexander Golovin. His efforts were rewarded with 5 points (2+3) in just 6 games and a positive comments from the Russian coaching staff. The Russian Under 18 National team coach Vladimir Plyuschev was pleased with Andrei’s performance and since Plyuschev has recently taken over the role as the head coach of the U20 Russian National Team, it is likely that Andrei Taratukhin’s days playing for team Russia are far from over.


Andrei Taratukhin was drafted by Calgary Flames in the 2nd round (41st overall). He at least 2 seasons away from a serious shot at the NHL. In those two seasons he will need to solidify a position on Avangard’s main lineup and learn from the valuable experience of playing in the Super League. Andrei also needs to work on his skating and his shooting in order to remain an effective threat on the next level of hockey. According to the Finnish observer from the 2001 U18 World Junior Championships, Andrei “ needs to bulk up a little more and get more upper-body strength”. So far Andrei’s development has gone very well in Avagard’s strong system and if all remains at the same pace, he will likely try his abilities in the NHL in 2-3 seasons. 

Eugene Belashchenko