The Edmonton Oilers have finally acquired the defenseman they have been searching for by bringing in former Nashville Predator Mattias Ekholm. Now that they have filled one hole, they should now be looking to add depth to their forward core for the final stretch and a deep playoff run. If they’re looking for cheap options, Vladislav Namestnikov is someone they should target.
The San Jose Sharks acquired Namestnikov on March 1 in a one-for-one deal with the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for Mikey Eyssimont, but the Sharks have made it known they will try to flip him for more assets. If the asking price isn’t too high, which I don’t expect it to be, the Oilers should make a run for him.
How Does Namestnikov Benefit the Oilers?
Namestnikov is a 30-year-old left-shot forward from Voskresensk, Russia. He was drafted by the Lightning in the first round of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft (27th overall) and is in his ninth full season in the NHL. He has played 610 games in his career, scoring 113 goals and 138 assists for a 0.41 points-per-game average. This season, Namestnikov has played 57 games, scoring six goals and 15 points. He was recently traded to the Sharks but has yet to play a game for them.
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He spent his junior career in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) with the London Knights and was named the assistant captain during his second and final season with the club. In 139 games with the Knights, he scored 52 goals and 139 points for a 1.06 points-per-game average.
Namestnikov got his first taste of NHL action in 2013-14 but spent most of that season in the AHL with the Syracuse Crunch. Bouncing between the NHL and AHL, he played 134 games with the Crunch, scoring 40 goals and 64 assists for a 0.78 points-per-game average, and his ability to score and create plays transferred over to the big league wheas soon as he made the jump.
He has built a reputation as an offensive player who is sound defensively. While he always looks to score goals and create opportunities in the offensive zone, he never compromises in his own end. His strong two-way play would benefit the Oilers’ bottom six, as they’ve struggled to put up points while maintaining a strong defensive game.
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A veteran leader like Namestnikov is what the team needs to become a favorite heading into the playoffs. They have a strong enough team to get themselves into the second round, but an addition like Namestnikov could be enough for a long playoff run. He does the little things right and leads by example, which would benefit the young players and the team overall.
What Would He Cost the Oilers?
Namestnikov has a $2.5 million cap hit that expires at the end of the season, so he would be coming in as a rental, and shouldn’t be too costly to bring him in from the Sharks. I think this trade could see Namestnikov being acquired by the Oilers for Warren Foegele, one-for-one. The money works on both sides, and the Sharks seem to be willing to bring in players who need a fresh start, like Foegele.
I’ve always been a fan of Namestnikov’s game, and he would fit in really well in the Oilers’ system. He might even find a home past this season with the club as a depth veteran forward. He would be an upgrade for the bottom six, and he should have an impact on the team’s playoff success.