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Blues, Tarasenko are talking but no deal imminent

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St. Louis Blues v Minnesota Wild Game 2

Blues right winger Vladimir Tarasenko is now seen as a leader of the offense, not a young player still coming into his own. Photo by Chris Lee, clee@post-dispatch.com

A day before the Blues' Vladimir Tarasenko will become a restricted free agent, general manager Doug Armstrong acknowledged Tuesday the two sides are continuing to discuss a contract extension but no agreement is imminent.

"We're having conversations, but I think both sides think it's best to keep it quiet," Armstrong said. "I've been clear that he's a priority for us and he understands that. Now we've just got to see if we can get a deal done."

About the possibility of the Blues and Tarasenko reaching a deal before Wednesday's opening of free agency at 11 a.m. (St. Louis time), Armstrong said, "I doubt it." 

Tarasenko, thus, will become eligible to receive offer sheets from outside clubs. Armstrong reiterated Tuesday that such a step would be futile because the Blues are prepared to match any offer.

"Yeah, that's why we're not getting active in the other markets until we know what those costs are going to be," Armstrong said. "I don't expect (an offer sheet), but if we get one, I'm comfortable that he'll be a Blue." 

Armstrong has indicated multiple times that his club would be inactive in the unrestricted free-agency market until Tarasenko is in the fold. On Tuesday, he said that stance still holds true, with the exception of adding depth players. 

"We'll talk to our own restricted free agents, but we're going to stay away from the unrestricted's until we find out what Vladi's intentions are," Armstrong said. "If we can find the depth player that we want, we're going to fill out our roster. But as far as making a significant addition to our team, we're not looking for a top five defensemen or a top 10 forward until we get Vladi done."

The Blues have two other players who will become restricted free agents Wednesday in goaltender Jake Allen and defenseman Robert Bortuzzo.

Like with Tarasenko, no deals are imminent with them, but the Blues did announce the re-signing of one of their other RFAs Tuesday. Forward Cody Beach inked a new deal with the club, of which terms weren't immediately available. Beach, a fifth-round pick in 2010, will be back with the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League.

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Jeremy Rutherford is the lead Blues beat writer for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

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