Blackhawks News

NHL Power Rankings: Top 10 Western Conference Forwards

By Matt Barbato
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Apr 18, 2015; St. Louis, MO, USA; (EDITORS NOTE: OBSCENE GESTURE IN BACKGROUND) Vladimir Tarasenko (91) celebrates his third goal of the game on an empty net against the Minnesota Wild during the second period in game two of the first round of the the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scottrade Center. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

4. Vladimir Tarasenko 

Tarasenko is one of the NHL’s purest goal scorers and he was recently rewarded with a hefty eight-year, $60.5 million contract after just two full seasons with the Blues.

Whether the extension came prematurely is up for debate, but there’s no argument about Tarasenko’s skills as a sniper. He took a big step forward in progression this season, playing in 77 games and netting 37 goals with 36 assists on a rather filthy 14 percent shooting.

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Tarasenko is also a very good possession player with a Corsi-for of 55.2 percent. He was also relied upon much more in defensive zone draws this season than he was in his first full season in the pros. Tarasenko was one of the few Blues who performed in the postseason, scoring six goals in six playoff games.

Tarasenko is a player with a knack for finding the puck and is plenty capable of a 40-goal season. His shooting percentage held up well after taking 128 more shots this season. He is only 23 and is already an incredibly gifted goal scorer after being in the NHL for barely three seasons. The ceiling is very high on Tarasenko, which is a probable explanation as to why St. Louis tried to lock him up as soon as possible.

The Blues have a franchise cornerstone in Tarasenko to win around. Now they just have to find a way to advance through the postseason while he is hitting his prime.

Next: No. 3: Tyler Seguin

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