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What Will Red Wings Do With Namestnikov?



Vladislav Namestnikov, Detroit Red Wings
Vladislav Namestnikov, recently promoted to the Red Wings' top line, will be a UFA at season's end.

At the start of the current NHL season, there was a constituency within the fanbase of the Detroit Red Wings that would’ve gladly run Vladislav Namestnikov out of town on a rail.

Good thing that the team didn’t listen to those complaints.

There can be no questioning that following a rather unremarkable first campaign in Detroit, Namestnikov has proven his value to the club this season. That he’s currently skating on Detroit’s top forward line alongside captain Dylan Larkin and rooke Lucas Raymond is all in need of saying to verify that account.

“They’re both easy to play with, they’re world-class players,” Namestnikov said. “It’s been fun.”

How much longer will the fun last for Namestnikov with the Red Wings? Long term, that’s a very pertinent question and one not easily answered.

He’ll be an unrestricted free agent when the current campaign concludes. Will he still be with the Red Wings then?

That’s also a valid point.

What Does Future Hold For Namestnikov?

In the past, Namestnikov has been a 20-goal scorer in the NHL. As recently as two seasons ago, he potted 17 goals. With 11 goals in 40 games this season, Namestnikov is on pace for a career-high 23 goals.

At the same time, he’s 29 and the Red Wings remain firmly in rebuild mode. Does signing a veteran forward to a multi-year deal make sense when the club will be needing to make room on the roster for the likes of Jonatan Berggren, Elmer Soderblom and Theodor Niederbach? And don’t forget that Jakub Vrana (shoulder surgery) will be back sometime next month.

On the other hand, Namestnikov is among the few Red Wings forwards who are both willing and able to go to the dirty areas of the ice and be productive.

“He is a smart player, he can do a lot of different things,” Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said of Namestnikov. “He can pass, he score around the net, he can get to the net and be a net presence, he’s pretty solid defensively.

“He’s responsible defensively. He plays with jam. The other part of it is he’s a smart offensive player. The puck doesn’t die on his stick. He knows how to make a play.”

Maintains Detroit Ties

Though he was born in Zhukovsky, Russia, Namestnikov was raised in Michigan. His father Jevgeni played in the NHL and his uncle Slava Kozlov was a two-time Stanley Cup winner with the Red Wings.

“Yeah of course I love it here,” Namestnikov said. “I love the guys in the room. It’s a special place for sure. It’s been awesome. I grew up watching this team and now to put on that jersey, it’s special for me and my family.”

Enticing Trade Bait

A goal-scoring forward who goes to the dirty areas and can move up and down a team’s forward units. Certainly, Namestnikov will be in demand at the March 21 NHL trade deadline.

He’s already been dealt twice at the deadline previously during his NHL career. Namestnikov went to the New York Rangers in 2018 and to the Colorado Avalanche in 2020.

Contract Talks In Drydock

As far as signing a new deal with the Wings, well that matter hasn’t even been discussed.

Namestnikov answered with a blunt “no” when asked if there’d been any contract negotiations intiated between him and the Red Wings.

“Right now we’re just focusing on next game,” Namestnikov said. “I don’t know when my agent will figure that out for sure.”

Of course, it’s always feasible that Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman could decide to have his cake and eat it, too. There’s nothing preventing him from moving Namestnikov at the trade deadline and then signing him to a new pact in the summer.

“I grew up here and I love everything about it, so it’d be great to stay for sure,” Namestnikov said.