Vladimir Tarasenko, RW, St. Louis Blues
Our memory of Vladimir Tarasenko’s performance in 2015-16 will probably be muddied for quite a while because of his poor showing in the Western Conference Finals, when he had no points and a minus-5 rating through the first five games before scoring two meaningless goals late in Game 6. Looking back at his season with a levelheaded point of view, though, it’s undeniable that he had one of the best seasons in Blues history.
In 80 games, Tarasenko scored 40 goals and collected 34 assists, continually making spectacular plays and carrying the Blues’ scoring attack for much of the season. According to Hockey Reference’s offensive point share metric (basically the hockey equivalent of baseball’s offensive WAR), Tarasenko had the eighth-best offensive season in the history of the franchise. Five of those top seven seasons came from Hall-of-Famer Brett Hull, with another coming from Hall-of-Famer Brendan Shanahan.
Tarasenko’s lack of productivity in the Conference Finals actually made his overall postseason performance all the more impressive. Over 20 games, he had nine goals and six assists, and he had three-point nights in each of the first two rounds. He seemed to burn out as the “second season” went on, but at the beginning of the playoffs, Tarasenko was about as invincible as a player can get.
Seeing as Tarasenko was the most dynamic player on the best team in St. Louis during 2016, it’s easy to see why one would argue that he was the MVP of St. Louis sports this year.