In his third professional season with the Tampa Bay Lightning organization, forward Vladislav Namestnikov seemed to find his stride. Splitting the season between Syracuse and Tampa, Namestnikov found ways to get himself noticed at both levels. His progress earned him another year with the organization and his highest personal ranking yet on our countdown.
Here's how our panel ranked Vladislav Namestnikov:
|Kyle Alexander||John Fontana||Mike Gallimore||GeoFitz4||Brett Frieman|
Previous Ranks: #14 (2014), #10 (2013)
Namestnikov was most able to show off his talent at the AHL level this past season. Although he barely played half a season with Syracuse, he still finished 5th on the Crunch in scoring. He had 35 points in 34 games with the Crunch, netting 14 goals and 21 assists. Namestnikov was a huge part of the Crunch's 10 game winning streak that occurred in the middle of the season. He had five goals and six assists during that period. Considering the Crunch went on to lose 10 games in a row at the end of the season, who knows where they would have ended up without that boon in the middle.
Namestnikov also played in 43 regular season games with the Lightning in 2014-2015. Overall, he scored nine goals and had seven assists during the regular season. Namestnikov also appeared in 12 playoff games for the Lightning, recording one assist.
Namestnikov was a restricted free agent this past summer, and was re-signed by the Lightning on July 17th to a one-year, two-way contract. Most anticipate that Namestnikov's role with Tampa Bay will be bigger this fall. He is waiver-eligible, and it's doubtful that the Lightning will risk losing him, so chances Syracuse will see him back are slim-to-none. In addition to his waiver status, it's very easy to see that Namestnikov has benefited all he can from playing at the AHL level, and now needs to focus on fighting his way through Tampa's depth at forward. Hockey's Future's feels he's at least close to that goal:
Namestnikov is an offensively-gifted forward with high level stick handling skills and skating ability. He continues to refine his positional play, particularly his defensive awareness and consistency. He has dominated at the AHL level and appears close to cracking the NHL on a permanent basis. Namestnikov should continue to improve as he develops physically and adds the strength and bulk necessary to compete on a nightly basis.
Long-term Namestnikov's skill set and offensive instincts suggest he should be a consistent scorer at the NHL one day as he matures physically and becomes more responsible in his own end.