In the summer of the non-offer sheet it wasn’t another team in North America that spurred Blues General Manager Doug Armstrong to sign RFA forward Vladimir Tarasenko to an eight-year $60 million contract.
It was the fear of the young, Russian forward going to the Kontinental Hockey League that helped lead to the mega-bucks deal.
Via Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Army admitted that Tarasenko having #KHL as an option was more worrisome to him than an offer sheet. He said Tarasenko never played KHL card
— Jeremy Rutherford (@jprutherford) July 7, 2015
Even though this does note Tarasenko and his agent Mike Liut didn’t overtly use the KHL as leverage, this is fascinating on a few levels.
For one, the NHL and the KHL could not come to some level of reciprocity on players who wanted to switch leagues. Contracts will continued to be honored in both league for the next year.
Also, the KHL’s influence is supposedly waning in regards to NHL players. Several Russians returned to North America in the NHL’s unrestricted free agency period.
KHL darling Alexander Radulov has hinted at an NHL return after this upcoming season. Tarasenko is an excellent hockey player but did his nationality push up his worth?
When Tarasenko chose the Blues in 2012 over the KHL, it was a big deal.
Said Armstrong via the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
"At such a young age, to show those skills, really made this a priority for us to see if we could work with him to get him to sign a long-term extension. Those were the things that we talked about really since we started this a week before the draft ... what was going to make him comfortable as far as term. I was quite comfortable that it was going to be a lot of money regardless. But getting the term for us was something that our ownership group believed in."
At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter. When you have a 23-year-old with that type of skill-set who can score highlight-reel goals you have to lock him up. The Blues did this and will have him for a long, long time.
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