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UPDATED: Vladislav Namestnikov recalled from Syracuse; where does that leave the Crunch?

This is the third time the forward has been recalled to Tampa Bay since his send-down on December 5th.

Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Many fans in Syracuse called it as soon as forward Brett Connolly was traded this past Monday morning:  Vladislav Namestnikov's time in Syracuse was coming to an end.

Well...they were right.

Namestnikov was recalled by the Tampa Bay Lightning this evening:

The Tampa Bay Lightning have recalled center Vladislav Namestnikov from the Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League today, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced.

Namestnikov, 5-foot-11, 171 pounds, has skated in 26 games with the Lightning this season, recording three goals and seven points with a plus-3 rating. He notched his first career NHL goal and assist on October 13 against the Montreal Canadiens. Namestnikov, 22, netted his first game-winning goal on October 24 in Winnipeg against the Jets. He has played in 30 career NHL games, all with the Lightning.

A native of Zhukovskiy, Russia, Namestnikov has played in 134 career AHL games, all with the Crunch. He has amassed 40 goals and 104 points. He has played in 34 games with Syracuse this season, with 14 goals and 35 points. Despite a limited number of games, Namestnikov ranks third on the team for points this season.

Namestnikov was drafted by the Lightning in the first round, 27th overall, of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.

With Connolly gone, the Lightning had been down to just 12 forwards on roster. However, most figured they wouldn't stay that way for long.

Unfortunately for Syracuse, this move appears to leave them a bit high and dry.

If the Crunch has had one major area of struggle this season, it's been with their offense. In those 34 games with Syracuse, Namestnikov climbed to third on the Crunch's roster in scoring. 2nd on the roster is Yanni Gourde, who took 56 games to amass 43 points (only 8 more than Namestnikov). In 4th in scoring is veteran Mike Angelidis, who has 32 points in 55 games.

As pointed out earlier this year, Angelidis isn't exactly a spring chicken, but he is having an awesome season, one that's arguably been one of his best in a long time. That's great, and it couldn't be happening to a more deserving, hard-working guy. But, now Angelidis is third on the roster in active players in scoring. Having that kind of player being that high on their scoring sheet is not exactly the norm for an AHL club heading into playoffs in a month and a half.

The only deal made at the NHL deadline that impacted the Crunch saw defenseman Matt Corrente moved to San Antonio in favor of center Ryan Martindale. Martindale has 13 points in 45 games with the Rampage this season, totals which plant him securely in 15th place on the Crunch's roster in scoring.

(Disclaimer: any sarcasm detected in that line is strictly a product of the reader's imagination)

Yes, the Crunch was excited to see defenseman  Luke Witkowski returned to Syracuse, a move that also happened on Monday due to the Radko Gudas/Braydon Coburn switch. His return should definitely help shore up the Crunch's blue line, even if it forced the popular Corrente out of the line up. Fans were also happy to see paper moves adding defenseman Nikita Nesterov and goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy to Syracuse's roster, which enables both to be sent to the Crunch post-deadline. Nesterov should be returning to Syracuse once Matt Carle is healthy again. Vasilevskiy will see serious time in a Crunch uniform only if Tampa falls out of the playoffs before Syracuse does.

AHL trades can still happen for another few days; Monday is the AHL trade deadline. Nothing may happen for Syracuse between now and then to help with their scoring troubles, but it sure would be nice if something did. Losing Namestnikov, although predicted by many, still stings just a little.

Update: Several hours after the recall, new information came out from Syracuse that Namestnikov's recall was on an emergency basis, which means that a forward is hurt in Tampa Bay. No other information has come out yet. Also, because this was an emergency recall, Tampa's two remaining non-emergency recalls remain in place. Finally, it may also mean that Namestnikov has a higher chance of returning to Syracuse before the playoffs.