Less than four months after undergoing reconstructive shoulder surgery, Vladimir Tarasenko is back on the ice.
The high-scoring Blues winger dislocated his left shoulder in the final game of the regular season on April 7 as he tried to check Avalanche forward Gabriel Landeskog halfway through the first period of a 5-2 St. Louis loss that kept the team from the postseason.
On Monday, he joined in on an informal practice with teammates at the Ice Zone in Hazelwood.
"I just follow the instructions, just what the doctors say," he told stlouisblues.com. "This last three and a half months was pretty tough, both mentally and physically, too. Lots of rehab stuff, and it was the longest break ever between seasons [for me]. But you just listen to the doctors and therapist and what they tell you and just follow the plan."
Tarasenko led the Blues in goals for the fourth straight season, notching 33 scores and racking up 66 points though his recovery appears to have him more than ready for training camp.
"I need to talk about it with the doctors more, but I'm cleared to skate with the group, but only with some contact right now," he said. "But I can shoot. I feel great and I feel stronger. I'm ready for the season."
The St. Louis roster will have a dramatically different look than the one Tarasenko ended the 2017-18 season with, having lost backup goalie Carter Hutton and forward Kyle Brodziak to free agency, but adding forward depth by signing center Tyler Bozak and wingers David Perron and Pat Maroon, as well as acquiring pivot Ryan O’Reilly in a trade with Buffalo. They join a core of players, aged 28 years or younger, that includes forwards Brayden Schenn and Jaden Schwartz, defensemen Colton Parayko and Alex Pietrangelo, and goalie Jake Allen.
While Tarasenko’s role won’t be affected by all the new faces in the dressing room, he’s already thrilled at the prospect of seeing what coach Mike Yeo pulls off with the new pieces.
"If coach puts us together, I'll be excited," Tarasenko said. "It's going to be a fun year. I can't wait to get together with all the new guys and start the season … I think they will fit perfectly in our team, especially after last year's disappointment. We have to play better to reach our goal, finally.”