Vladimir Tarasenko's rookie season was surrounded by big hype and even bigger expectations. When the doors closed on the 2012-13 season, Tarasenko's first year in the NHL was a mixed bag. He started with a bang, but faded and soon suffered a concussion which forced him out of the regular lineup. The final line for Tarasenko was eight goals and 11 assists (19 points) in 38 games.
How would you label Tarasenko's first year? According to the man himself, his first season was, "good, but average."
Tarasenko's comments were reported by R-Sport. The young forward added:
I’ll try to do better this season. My self-requirements have increased. Because of my youth I didn’t really know how to condition myself and how to prioritize. Now I’ve got an understanding after talking to guys like Ilya Kovalchuk that you have to take care of yourself and prepare hard.
There is a steep learning curve in the NHL and it's really no wonder Tarasenko struggled to adapt. It's nice to see him taking advice from another proven NHL star, but let's hope Tarasenko doesn't follow Kovalchuk's lead and abandon the NHL prematurely.
I gave my opinion on Tarasenko's first year quite some time ago. There I mentioned that though he didn't live up to the hype, there were several external factors (lockout, playing in the KHL, two concussions) which limited his overall production. All things considered, Tarasenko's debut went about as well as any of us could have hoped.
The real story isn't about Tarasenko's first year in the NHL, it's about how he learns from that first year and how he builds on it in 2013-14.