As per Elite Prospects, Vladislav Namestnikov is “a very skilled offensive center; a reliable finisher with an impressive wrist shot; a good passer and playmaker; an excellent skater [that] takes advantage of open space very well; [a] solid two-way [player that] needs to gain strength.” The 18-year old was born in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia on November 22, and played youth hockey with Khimik Voskresensk where he scored 11 goals and registered 6 assists in 26 games in the 2009-2010 season.
Namestnikov made the move to North American hockey in 2010 playing for the Ontario Hockey League’s London Knights, and he scored 30 goals and had 68 total points in 68 games during the 2010-2011 season. During the Knights’ short stint in the 2011 OHL playoffs, Namestnikov scored 1 goal and 4 assists in 6 games.
Namestnikov’s uncle, Vyacheslav Kozlov, won the Stanley Cup twice with the Detroit Red Wings while playing alongside Tampa GM Steve Yzerman. Kozlov was drafted 45th overall by Detroit in the 1990 entry draft (two years before the birth of his now first round draftee nephew), and he played a total of 1,182 games with three teams in the NHL scoring 356 goals and logging 497 helpers for a total 853 points. Vladislav said of his uncle, “he always took me to the rink and showed me the locker room, [and I] got to meet all the guys. So, it was really great growing up with him.”
Look for Namestnikov to continue bulking up and learning to play in the more physical North American hockey system before making any move to a full time roster spot in the NHL. But, when he does make that move, we must remember that nothing is ever guaranteed just because he was selected in the first round of the draft. Roughly 60% of players drafted between #25 and #35 overall in the draft have ever turned out to be true contributors. So, we must wait and see what comes of this promising young Russian.