Don’t bother wasting your time telling Vladislav Namestnikov about his poor 2021 NHL campaign with the Detroit Red Wings. In fact, just sit back and let him tell you all about it.
“I think I could have produced more,” Namestnikov said. “It was kind of a down year personally.”
Signed to a two-year, $4 million contract by the Detroit Red Wings prior to last season, bigger things were expected from Vladislav Namestnikov than what he delivered on the ice.
He finished with eight goals and nine assists from 53 games. This from a player who potted 17 goals in the previous season and a career-high 22 as recently as 2017-18.
Excuses? Sure, they would be available. The strange conditions created by the COVID-19 pandemic. The delay in the launch of the season until January. The shortened, condensed 56-game campaign.
Namestnikov Shoulders Blame
Again, he’s not going there. Namestnikov is only finding fault in himself.
“I wouldn’t blame it on the weird year,” Namestnikov said. “We were obviously all in the same situation.
“Sometimes you just aren’t happy with the way you play all season. I think I could have been way better.”
He’s hopeful that a summer of reflection will lead to a season of redemption.
“You can improve on everything,” Namestnikov said. “I think I had a good, hard summer and I’m looking to rebound this year. I worked hard on conditioning, getting stronger.
“Last year I wasn’t good enough in my personal view. I’m looking to rebound and have a stronger year.”
One of the factors in his game the focused much of his summer work on was his touch around the net in the hopes of regaining the scoring touch that was proving so elusive last season.
“You work on usually getting stronger, getting faster, but I was more on the ice this year working on skills and my shot,” Namestnikov said.
“I worked hard this summer in preparing for the season. I’m excited and ready to get going.”
In training camp, Namestnikov has been skating alongside 2021 relevation Adam Erne and hulking center Michael Rasmussen on what is tentatively projecting to be the Red Wings’ third line. It’s a solid combination. There’s size and willingness to work the dirty areas such as the corners and the net front to gain pucks and create chances. Erne and Rasmussen bring physicality and tenacity and in the past, Namestnikov is a proven finisher.
That trio was a solid unit for the Red Wings in the NHL preseason opener against the Chicago Blackhawks.
“I think it’s been good so far,” Namestnikov said of the line. “I think we complement each other well. All three of us can skate and get on the forecheck, grind out low down there.
“I think so far in camp we’ve been doing that and hopefully we can continue that into the games.”