25-Year-Old Center – Tampa Bay Lightning
Vladislav Namestnikov Contract Information:
Signed a two-year, $3.875 million contract extension with the Lightning in July of 2016.
Namestnikov scored a goal and added two assists -- one on the power play -- during Thursday's 5-2 win over Colorado.
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Vladislav Namestnikov: Past News Updates ( ▲ View most recent update )
RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
Namestnikov's first full season in the NHL was a little like those cereal variety packs – there was a bit of Rice Krispie boredom while playing on the lower lines, but he also delivered remarkable Frosted Flakes deliciousness on the top lines. But even with the boring bits, Namestnikov's overall production was outstanding. He put up career marks in goals (14), assists (21) and points (35) in 80 games in 2015-16 and turned that into a two-year, $3.875 million deal with the Bolts over the summer. Namestnikov didn't look out of place in his Tony the Tiger opportunities beside Steven Stamkos and that's where he's likely to see time this season. The Bolts are deep down the middle – think Tyler Johnson, Stamkos and Valterri Filppula – so Vlad will need to slide to the wing unless the team moves Filppula's contract early in the season. He could jump to 50 points beside Stammer this season. Long term, the team feels he's best deployed at center, so it won't be many seasons before he becomes the team's second-line pivot. He's definitely on the rise.
Namestnikov is uber talented, but for now, there’s little room at the inn for him to flex his offensive muscles. He didn’t see much time in the playoffs last year, and the cadre of forwards in Tampa Bay is pretty much set, so he won’t get a chance to increase his ice time or role … yet. He’ll play for the Bolts in 2015-16, but is penciled onto the third line. And the power of the top two lines means he just won’t see many special-teams opportunities. But keeper leaguers should stash him now -- it won’t take long for the Bolts to realize they won’t be able to keep all of their young studs, and Namestnikov will be ready to fill any voids created by trades. Buy and hold if you can. Or target him at your trade deadline if you’re liquidating assets in preparation for the future.
Namestnikov got off to a hot start in the AHL last season, picking up a remarkable 19 points in his first 13 games. Surgery for a broken hand kept him on the sidelines for five weeks, but we're confident he would have finished in the league's top-five scorers had he played the whole season. Even so, the talented playmaker may not earn a gig in Tampa to start this season. He's talented enough to be there, but Steven Stamkos is healthy, and that will bump Namestnikov down the depth chart of centers. He may be best served to dominate a full season in the AHL, but that doesn't diminish his value in dynasty leagues. He'll be a point-per-game playmaker in his prime -- stash him away.
Namestnikov is yet another supremely-talented young Russian forward the Bolts have boldly stashed away. He's still a distance from the NHL, but like fellow countryman, Nikita Kucherov, he has first-line upside. The two are different players -- Namestnikov would be considered the playmaker while Kucherov the sniper. So his keeper value is tied to your league format. We'd put Kucherov a notch higher simply because of his sniping. But the two might end up being equally valuable in three season's time. Watch him in the AHL this season to see how his game grows.
Namestnikov is a whole lot closer to a job in Tampa than fellow Russian prospect Nikita Kucherov. Namestnikov isn't quite as talented as Kucherov, but he's awfully close. Combine that with his willingness to leave Russia and play in North America, specifically in the pro-style system of the London Knights, and willingness to play with an edge, and you have a potential top-line playmaker. His speed will impress in camp and he'll press for a job this fall. But we fully expect him to toil -- and dominate -- in the AHL in 2012-13.
Namestnikov has those trademark one-on-one skills – elite playmaking, great vision and exceptional lateral speed – of an elite offensive Russian hockey forward. But his game also has some holes. His lateral speed isn’t equaled straight ahead and he’s not the fleetest of skaters. He’s skinny (170 lbs) for a six-footer, something that sets off a few alarm bells for a guy who’s older than most of his draft class. And his shot is well below average. Still, he could be a Mikhail Grabovski-like waterbug without the snipes if he can grow his game. And his bloodlines -- son of a former NHLer (John) and nephew of Slava Kozlov -- speak to his potential.