It’s not often that a forward averaging just ten minutes a night and with just one point in his first eight games generates a lot of trade interest, but that might be the case for New York Rangers center Vladislav Namestnikov. Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet writes in his latest 31 Thoughts column that there is some interest in Namestnikov and that the Rangers may be willing to listen. The 25-year old center has been pushed further and further down the lineup this season for the Rangers, and played just 13 shifts (9:25) on Tuesday night.
Though he may not be performing well this year, there’s good reason to believe Namestnikov can still be an effective player in the NHL. Originally selected 27th overall by the Tampa Bay Lightning, he eventually grew into a talented offensive player that lined up alongside Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov for a time. Though skating next to those two superstars helped along his numbers, his underlying possession statistics have always been relatively good and he’s at least shown that he can play up in the lineup if given the chance.
Part of the reason the Rangers may have decided to move on from him as a core piece is the fact that Namestnikov is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent following the 2019-20 season. Signed to a two-year, $8MM contract in July, he may be both too expensive and slightly too old to really figure into their rebuild. He’ll be looking for a long-term deal when he hits the open market—provided his play rebounds in New York or elsewhere—just while the Rangers are ready to start competing again with their young core. Just like Kevin Hayes, who has made it clear he’d rather stay with the Rangers, there might just not be room for them on the next iteration of the team.