Monday, October 7, 2019

Vladislav Namestnikov: Two Autographed Cards

In a move that was rumoured all summer long, the New York Rangers have finally traded 26-year-old centre Vladislav Namestnikov to the Ottawa Senators, for 25-year old AHL defenseman Nick Ebert and a fourth-round draft pick in 2121.

I'll tell you right now, the Sens improved, not just because Namestnikov is a former first-rounder (27th overall in 2011), but because he can still produce, even on teams that don't want him: he had 20 goals and 44 points in 62 games with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2017-18 and 31 points in 78 games on a terrible Rangers team last year, so between an AHLer plus a seventh and 30-45 points, you take the points.

In Tampa, he was forced out by the quick ascension of Brayden Point, and the Rangers were hoping to make a second-line centre out of him, but acquiring Ryan Strome who miraculously started producing with the Blueshirts left him once again out in the cold.

And while he still has that offensive ability, he just isn't a shut-down player who can man a third line that is strictly defensive. It's a skill he is developing, but he's not there yet. But the Rangers kept insisting on it: in their two wins this year, they played him an average of 13:53 per, with 100% of his starts being in the defensive zone. Not "more than half", not "three-quarters"... 100%.

On the Senators, it's likely he will form a line with Artem Anisimov with the pair switching from centre to wing depending on situation and each pushing the other to remain relevant in an ever-younger league.

I hope he makes a good go of it.

We already know he looks good in black, as can be attested from card #444 in Upper Deck's 2016-17 O-Pee-Chee collection:
It will be weird to no longer see him in blue, though, as so far I mostly think of him as a member of the Lightning, as per card #415 from Upper Deck's 2016-17 Series 2 set:
He signed them in blue sharpie in January 2018, back when he was still with Tampa Bay. He tagged his jersey number (90) at the end.

Internationally, he has two bronze medals with Team Russia, from the 2009 World Junior "A" Challenge and the 2017 World Championships; he also has two fourth-place finishes, at the 2010 World Juniors and the 2016 World Cup.

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