One of the multiple reasons why Detroit Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill appreciates Vladislav Namestnikov is that “the puck doesn’t die on his stick.”
“He knows how to make a play,” Blashill said. “I think he’s done a really good job at that. What happens at times when guys move up lines, they try to get too cute, force too many plays.”
That’s not Vladislav Namestnikov. He can play many different roles, and understands each one of them. He played on the first, second and third lines at various times this season and has 13 goals at the 50-game mark. He’s tied for fourth on the team in goals, even though he is only averaging 15 minutes per game. At 29, he realizes he has enough skill to get scoring chances, but not enough skill that he can shirk his defensive responsibilities.
“He can do a lot of different things, he can pass, score around the net, get to the net and be a net presence and he’s pretty solid defensively,” Blashill said.
Namestnikov is handy to have around and the Red Wings probably want him back next season. He could finish with 18-20 goals this season. That’s good production for a player who spends most of his time on the third line centered by Michael Rasmussen. It’s also enough production that several teams could be interested in acquiring him before the March 21 trade deadline.
The Red Wings could trade him, as a rental, for a draft pick or prospect and then try re-sign him the summer
Here are five teams that should be interested in making a deal for Namestnikov:
1. Tampa Bay Lightning
The organization knows him well. Detroit GM Steve Yzerman drafted him when he was in Tampa Bay in 2011. Namestnikov scored 53 goals over parts of four seasons with the Lightning. The Lightning aren’t as deep as they were when they won their back-to-back Cups in 2020 and 2021.
Namestnikov could help the Lightning upgrade their bottom six forwards. The Lightning have no cap space, but Namestnikov is making $2 million and the Red Wings are willing to retain half the salary. That makes Namestnikov almost a minimum-wage player.
2. Boston Bruins
The Bruins are the NHL’s lowest-scoring team among teams currently in a playoff spot. They could use more secondary scoring and Namestnikov is having one of his better offensive seasons. Again, the $1 million cap hit is attractive.
3. Edmonton Oilers
GM Ken Holland knows Namestnikov because Namestnikov is Slava Kozlov’s nephew. He was frequently at Kozlov’s home during Kozlov’s heyday in Detroit when Holland was general manager. The Oilers need goaltending and a defenseman, but adding a bargain basement contributing forward could also help.
4. Los Angeles Kings
The Kings are just looking to make the playoffs and they could benefit from Namestnikov’s versatility. He can kill penalties and make plays.
5. Pittsburgh Penguins
The Pens are looking to upgrade their middle six forward group and Namestnikov has enjoyed a better season than some of the Pens’ forwards. Namestnikov could even fit well on the second line with Evgeni Malkin if the team had injuries