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Best, worst case for Vladimir Tarasenko

Updated: October 23, 2012, 12:08 PM ET
By Craig Custance

It's hard not to appreciate his honesty. Some teams will pump up their prospects regardless of how good they project them to be. Others are overly cautious in building expectations for their young players.

Blues GM Doug Armstrong just wants a little more time to evaluate. He still isn't exactly sure what he has in Russian forward Vladimir Tarasenko, who is off to a red-hot start in the KHL, with six goals in seven games for St. Petersburg. Tarasenko is currently ranked among ESPN Insider Grant Sonier's Top 20 prospects.

When asked for specifics about what Tarasenko needs to improve in order to achieve NHL success, Armstrong paused for a moment before answering.

"Can you call me back in six months?" he said, and then laughed. "It is hard because we haven't seen him play on the small ice outside of the World Junior [Championships]."

Tarasenko was the No. 16 overall pick in the 2010 draft, which also included Evgeny Kuznetsov; teams were cautious that year about choosing Russian players, who can be tough to lure to North America. The Blues felt really good about getting Jaden Schwartz at No. 14 in that same draft, then struck a deal with Ottawa to grab Tarasenko two picks later. An abundance of right-handed shot defensemen in their system allowed Armstrong to deal David Rundblad to the Senators for a shot at Tarasenko, who the GM felt was a risk worth taking as the draft worked itself into the teens.

"Look at the draft -- if his name was Smith, he'd be going in the top five," Armstrong said. "At some point, you take calculated risks."

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