A young Russian with a lot of skill that came to the NHL by way of the London Knights - the Colorado Avalanche already have one of those. But maybe it’s time to look at the possibility of acquiring a second one to go along with Nikita Zadorov.
With the New York Rangers in full rebuild mode, pending UFAs Kevin Hayes and Mats Zuccarello are known to be on the trade block as we get closer to the February 25th trade deadline. But it’s not just the pending free agents that the Rangers could be looking to move. Recently Vladislav Namestnikov’s name has popped up in trade rumors. Namestnikov has another year left on his contract after this season but the Rangers might look to move him if they don’t see the 26-year-old as part of the long term plan.
The extra year on his contract would make Namestnikov far more attractive to teams that don’t want to spend assets on rentals - teams like the Colorado Avalanche.
He might not be the high-end scorer many Avs fans would like to see brought in to shore up the second line, but Namestnikov is a very good middle-6 guy that can help a number of the issues that currently plague the Avalanche lineup.
Quite simply, Namestnikov is what Avalanche fans want Vladislav Kamenev to be.
So far this season, Namestnikov has 14 points through 29 games - that would be enough to put him 6th among Avalanche forwards. Beyond the point production, bringing in Namestnikov would have big impact on team defense at even-strength but more importantly on the penalty kill.
Ranked 24th in the NHL, the Avalanche have not been very good this season when shorthanded. The addition of a guy like Namestnikov would help significantly. He can play either forward position on the PK and would give the Avs a strong option after Carl Soderberg.
When speaking to the New York Post, Rangers head coach David Quinn said of Namestnikov:
“He and I have talked. He’s been more physical, obviously, and played with more edge. But this is a guy that with some skill, too, and I don’t want that to get lost in how hard he’s been playing. He and I have talked about that — we’re not trying to turn him into a fourth-line checker. He’s a guy that can create offense with his speed, and he’s got good hands and he can shoot it. So if you add that physical element that he’s had, being hard on pucks, he’s going to be more productive offensively and be able to play in different roles. That’s what he’s done. He’s a good player, he’s a great kid, love having him here, and he’s a good teammate”
That sounds like exactly the type of player Joe Sakic should be pursuing in order to improve this Avalanche lineup.
As mentioned, Namestnikov is not a rental. He has one more year left on a contract that pays him another $4m after this season. Some might think this is a bit of an inflated number, but it’s one that the Avalanche could definitely fit in their cap structure. There is more than enough room for his prorated salary this season and the dollar figure is almost identical to the Colin Wilson contract that will be coming off the books this summer.
The Rangers are looking to get younger, so the asking price would likely involve prospects and picks. Having the extra picks from the Matt Duchene trade makes this sort of deal a lot easier for the Avalanche this year than it would have in the past.
Namestnikov would help fix some of the problems the team has this year and he would be the perfect replacement for Wilson next season. As long as the price isn’t too steep, he’s a player Sakic should make a strong pitch for in his goal to push the Avs to the next level.