TORONTO • After seeing Vladimir Tarasenko play in the gold-medal game at the World Junior Championships on Wednesday, Blues general manager Doug Armstrong acknowledged that the Russian forward could be playing in the NHL soon.
"When he does get over here, he'll push very quickly for an NHL job," Armstrong said, one day after Tarasenko netted the game-tying goal in an eventual 5-3 win for Russia over Canada in the final.
When Tarasenko will "get over here," however, remains the key question. The Blues' first-round draft pick last year is under contract with Novosibirsk Siber of Russia's KHL, and the Blues are not permitted to talk to him until the completion of his season. If Tarasenko makes Russia's roster for the World Championships, the Blues may not be allowed to talk to him until May.
"We're hoping to get him here for camp next year ... that's the goal ... or over here to train in the summer," Armstrong said. "We're just being law-abiding citizens and we're following that protocol."
Nonetheless, Armstrong left the junior championships Wednesday ecstatic about the future of Tarasenko, who had 11 points (four goals, seven assists) and was a plus-8 in seven games at the tournament.
"I would say he was a top player in the tournament," Armstrong said. "The top players played very well, and I think he was in that group. I think he's got NHL skating, he's got strength ... now it's just taking his game to the next level.
"To me, it's very important when you have young players, how they play when the pressure is on and the lights are the brightest. He and his team found a way to get that job done."
New Jersey Devils forward Jamie Langenbrunner was expected to be traded late Thursday, and with a history between Langenbrunner and Armstrong in Dallas, there was speculation that the Blues could be interested.
Armstrong, who was with the Stars from 1991 to 2007, declined comment Thursday.
Langenbrunner, 35, who played in Dallas from 1996 to 2002, is in the final season of a five-year contract with New Jersey that pays him $2.8 million this year. The Devils captain was a healthy scratch in Thursday's game as he awaited completion of a trade.
Langenbrunner has 232 goals and 620 points in 996 games in the NHL.
Blues forward T.J. Oshie made the trip to Toronto but did not return to the lineup. The plan was for Oshie to get more practice time as he mends from a broken ankle.
"He's a major part of our team and this is how you get back into it," Blues President John Davidson said. "When you practice at NHL speed like this, even if it's the day of a game, coaches can see it. They'll get a sense of when it's time to get him back in the lineup. Can he handle what these guys are doing? You just don't have him sit at home and one day play a game. It's got to be a process of him feeling confident."
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