The Detroit Red Wings are staying busy on the free agent market and have landed themselves a bargain. Versatile, two-way winger Vladislav Namestnikov is set to join the Red Wings and reunite with GM Steve Yzerman, who drafted him in the first round with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Detroit has announced a two-year deal with Namestnikov which reportedly carries a $2MM AAV. This represents a surprising drop-off in salary for Namestnikov, who made $4MM on his previous contract and has 30+ points in four of his five full NHL seasons.
Namestnikov, PHR’s 20th-ranked UFA, is either the victim of a flat cap market that is already running out of money or simply took a discount to join the Red Wings and play a major role up front. The 27-year-old is coming off a season in which he recorded 17 goals and 31 points in 65 games, despite dealing with not one but two different trades. Moving from the New York Rangers to the Ottawa Senators and then to the Colorado Avalanche, Namestnikov quickly took to each of his new locales and excelled. With some consistency, he is easily capable of reaching 20 goals and 40 points while being paid like a player who might produce half that much.
A skilled forward who also plays a responsible defensive game and is a major asset on the penalty kill, Namestnikov checks a number of boxes for Detroit. If handed a major role, as he was in Ottawa, Namestnikov should be a top scorer for the Red Wings as well as one of their best special teams players. While his salary seemingly reflects a “show me” deal, the two-year term means he’ll need produce in both seasons in Detroit if he want to cash in the next time he hits the open market. Fortunately, Namestnikov stands a strong chance of boosting his stock in Detroit and will still be just 29 as a UFA in 2022.