Saturday, June 11, 2011

2011 NHL Draft Prospects: Vladislav Namestnikov

The 2011 draft now less than one month away, and the Rangers scouting and front office staff is looking through many prospects to see who they want to select with the 15th overall selection.  With the current state of the Rangers defense both at the NHL and prospect level one would expect that New York will look for offense in the first round of the draft hoping to find an impact scorer.  There are a number of offensive prospects that could be available at 15.  We have already looked at Mark Scheifele, Mark McNeill, Zack Phillips, Joel Armia, Sven Bartschi, Ty Rattie, Matt Peumpel
Today Vladislav Namestnikov of the London Knights in the Ontario Hockey League becomes the next to be looked at in a draft preview.  Namestnikov came over to the OHL this year, much like Alexander Burmistrov, to adapt to the North American game in advance of the NHL draft and show his commitment to playing here.  In his first season with the Knights he tallied 30 goals and 38 assists in 68 games.
In the Final Central Scouting Rankings he came it at 11 after being 17 during the midseason rankings period.  He came
The mock drafts have him all over the board with one sending him to Calgary at 13, one to New York at 15 and one having him slide all the way to 28 where the Toronto Maple Leafs would select him.
Kirk Luedeke of Bruins Draft Watch’s:

Skilled Russian came over to the OHL this season and played very well, finishing second to Bruins prospect Jared Knight (25 goals 70 points) in scoring for London with 30 goals and 68 points in as many games. He's a late-92 birthdate who made an immediate impact with his team and adjusted well to the North American game. Namestnikov led all Knights players with 30 markers this season and has high-end skills and nice wheels. He's very average-sized at 6-0 and about 170, so will have a lot of off-ice work to do in order to get his body ready for the pro hockey grind, but he's highly adept at handling the puck, setting up the play and thinks the game at an advanced level. He speaks perfect English, as he spent much of his youth in the U.S. and Canada while his dad, Evgeny, was playing in the NHL and AHL. His uncle, Slava Kozlov is a Stanley Cup champion and 800+ point scorer in the NHL, so Namestnikov's sterling blood lines will help. He's a typical skilled European player who is very good offensively, but is still a work in progress in terms of his defense, but there is some upside here for sure.
Namestnikov is a very crafty player. His playmaking ability is definitely his biggest asset. He has the stickhandling ability to slow the game down in the offensive end, is patient enough to allow the right play to develop, and has the vision to find open teammates. He is also very deceptively quick. He'll skate casually down the wing with the puck, and then all of sudden turns on the afterburners and will beat defenders to the outside. In terms of his overall ability, it's not bad. He has some feistiness to him and is generally unwilling to become physically intimidated. He's also a fairly solid two way player and will make an effort to backcheck. That being said, I found that he could become invisible during stretches. He's not an incredibly "flashy" player and a guy you're going to notice on every shift. To be honest, being a late birth date, I thought he would have had a more consistent season in London. Moving forward, I'm just not sure he'll develop into an elite offensive talent. Being slightly undersized, and lacking a pure dynamic ability in his game, I don't see him becoming a number one offensive center you can lean on. But he has enough talent and smarts to be that number 2 guy every team needs. A guy you can pair with a bigger forward and a talented goal scorer and have a productive unit.
A very skilled offensive center. A reliable finisher. A good passer and playmaker. An excellent skater. Takes advantage of open space very well. Needs to gain strength. (Matias Strozyk)
The Scouting Report (Ranked 39, midseason)
Came into the season with very high expectations but just hasn’t managed to find his groove offensively as the Knights as a whole have struggled to find some cohesion up front. Namestnikov is a smooth skater who can move up and down the ice fairly effortlessly and also is a very good puck mover. He sees the ice well and makes a lot of smart decisions with the puck which makes his linemates a lot better. Really lacks a lot of strength which is a big issue for him as he does get pushed around a bit, and he really needs to find a way to add some weight in the future.
The Rangers do need offensive skill and Namestnikov seems to possess it with his passing ability and quick wrist shot that has allowed him to score.  The problems include his one way play and lack of strength, but his one-way play, more than his lack of ideal size, is what is likely to turn the Rangers off of taking him at 15.

Should Rangers Get In On Jeff Carter Trade Talks?

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
The New York Rangers are in need of top line offensive talent to go with Marian Gaborik.  It is rare to be able to get that kind of player either through trades or free agency.  We all know that Brad Richards is out there and the Rangers will look to sign him come July 1.  With Richards wanting upwards of 7 seasons at $7 million per one has to wonder if dealing for a top line player might also be something to consider. One player who has the credentials as top line player that could be forced into the trade market due to his team’s cap problems is Jeff Carter of the Philadelphia Flyers.  There are murmurs of him being connected to the Columbus Blue Jackets (built around Voracek and #8 pick), though there have been Carter trade rumors before.  If that is the projected cost for trading for Jeff Carter, should the Rangers attempt to get involved in the trade discussion?

Carter, 26, has put up 29+ goals in each of the last four seasons and 60+ points in each of the last three years.  Carter is an elite goal scorer in a league where consistent scoring is becoming harder and harder to find.  For years he has been looked at as a one-way player, but he was vastly improved on the defensive side of the puck this season.  He is not going to win a Selke or anything of the sort, but to call him a one-way player would be a disservice to the work he has put in to improve his defensive abilities.   

He is not going to be a physical player so his fit in the new Tortorella system is something that could be an issue, but this team needs skill and Carter has the ability to both play off and create space for Marian Gaborik.  Beyond what he can do for the likes of Gaborik at even strength, Carter can make the Rangers significantly more dangerous with the man advantage as well.  Carter has accounted for 39 power play goals and 42 power play assists in the past four seasons.  

Other than the sheer unlikeliness of the Flyers and Rangers making a trade with one another, the main concerns with a trade for Carter revolve around what he will cost.  The cost for Carter will be high both in assets and taking on his contract.  His contract has a reasonable cap hit of $5.27 million, but it is for 11 years and runs until he is 37 years old.  That is a problem, but one more for down the road than right now when you consider that Richards wants to be paid until approximately the same age with the difference being that Carter still has his prime ahead of him while Richards is past his. 

In terms of assets, one would imagine an extremely high price to acquire a talent like Carter.  Given the salary cap problems for the Flyers, it is likely that the package would be centered around young NHL talent and/or prospects starting with the likes of Michael Del Zotto or Chris Kreider.

In the end the combination of the length of Carter’s contract, the cost to acquire him in assets and the fact that it would be Rangers trading with Flyers it is unlikely that the Rangers make the move for Jeff Carter.  Regardless of that, this is the kind of talent the Rangers need to be looking to acquire.  If the Flyers deal Carter, even to make room for a Bryzgalov contract, it would be a benefit to the Rangers because regardless of the Flyers depth up front they have few if anyone that can match Carter’s skill.  I would look for Philly to trade other players to fix their cap situation before they give up on Carter, but if he is on the market the Rangers should at least attempt to kick the tires.