NHL Rankings: Western Conference’s 5 Most Improved Players

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

5. Vladimir Tarasenko 

Expectations for Tarasenko were already pretty high to begin with, but to gauge just how much Tarasenko improved this season, I’m going to let his new contract do the talking.

The St. Louis Blues extended Tarasenko with an eight-year, $60 million contract this summer. Tarasenko has only played two and a half seasons in the NHL. This extension shows that Tarasenko transcended early expectations for himself as a top prospect, with a ton of upside remaining for the soon-to-be superstar.

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So what exactly did Tarasenko do to earn this gigantic contract? He scored 37 goals, added 36 assists and led the team in points and plus/minus rating. The Blues are clearly aware they have a perennial All-Star on their hands, and Tarasenko should only continue to ascend in his fourth season. Although he only ranks fifth on this most-improved list, the ceiling is definitely sky high for Tarasenko.

Next: No. 4: Tyler Toffoli

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