NHL starlet Vladimir Tarasenko decided to return to his former team SKA St. Petersburg during the lockout partly because forward Ilya Kovalchuk had done the same, Tarasenko said Monday.
St. Louis Blues wing signed a lockout contract with SKA on Monday, teaming up with New Jersey star Kovalchuk, who was assigned the captaincy last Tuesday.
“I can say that it was one of the factors that influenced my decision to come here,” Tarasenko said Monday.
“It is the dream of every young player to play in the same team as such person.”
The 20 year old said he was in a good shape but would probably have problems with jetlag.
“I think that I’m physically fit, because I’ve been training for two and a half months. I need to pass a medical and I think the day after tomorrow I’ll train [with the team]. I know that I’ll need a couple of days to get used to the time,” he said.
Tarasenko was a first-round draft pick for the Blues in 2010 and moved to St. Louis in the summer after racking up 25 points in 30 games for SKA last season in the KHL.
Despite not yet making his NHL debut, he said he had already gathered a good understanding of North American hockey.
“I felt the atmosphere, attitude towards players, difference in training sessions, so I’ve got a foretaste of it, though incomplete. There is a difference in the training process, in the level of service.”
Tarasenko is the son of hockey star Andrei Tarasenko, who played for Russia at the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer and was head coach at KHL team Sibir Novosibirsk when his son made his debut there in 2008.