Evaluating The Trade Value of Rangers RFAs Spooner and Namestnikov
The NHL Entry Draft has come and gone, but that leaves the Rangers nowhere close to being ready for October. The Rangers drafted some exciting young prospects, like Russian winger Vitali Kravtsov and big defenseman K’Andre Miller from the USNTDP, but the question marks regarding the rest of the Rangers off-season are still in play.
As we approach the July 1st commencement of the free agency period, trade talks will begin to pick up and we will see quite a few players find new homes. Two of these players are Rangers’ restricted free agents Ryan Spooner and Vladislav Namestnikov. Spooner was acquired in the trade that sent Rick Nash over to Boston, while Namestnikov came from Tampa in the mega-deal that saw the end of J.T. Miller’s and Ryan McDonagh’s tenure in New York.
As the saga of the Rangers rebuild continues, many people within the fan base and media think it best to deal the rights to one or both of these newly acquired soon-to-be free agents. So let’s take a look at just how valuable they each can be.
Spooner had spent the entirety of his career in Boston, providing the Bruins with a gritty style of play on the third-line. But despite this characterization, he has shown that he has the ability to get the puck to the right areas of the ice and put up points. His highest point total in Boston came in 2015 when he notched 49 points in 80 games. And to put into perspective the kind of development he has undergone since then, he put up 41 points in 59 games this season. He managed to score only a few points below his previous career high in 21 fewer games.
Spooner jumped onto the scene in New York, becoming an immediate contributor to a team that was seemingly free-falling with no end in sight. He quickly became one of their best offensive weapons in the weeks following his acquisition, somewhat making up for the lack of production provided by Namestnikov in the same time period. Spooner is not a player who will provide a team with 80 points, but he is one who can play with an aggressive edge on the second line. He is fast and has extremely quick hands. While Spooner sometimes lets his creativity get him in trouble, he has a great ability to create offense and move the puck through the neutral zone. Most notably though, he can play at center or on the wing, providing excellent versatility.
In the video above, we can see Spooner’s quickness and ease at which he carries the puck down ice. Once in the offensive zone, Spooner knows exactly where his trailer is and sends a backhand pass perfectly to set up the game winning goal.
Trade Value: Moderate
Vlad Namestnikov’s arrival in New York was much less momentous than Spooner’s. Despite scoring his first goal with the Blueshirts in his first game, he was offensively silent and struggled to catch his footing following the trade. He finished the year with 48 points, but most of that can be attributed to playing alongside superstars Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov in Tampa Bay. But with that said, it is his style of play that makes him such an intriguing young player.
Namestnikov has an intense north-south style of play. He skates with incredible speed, wastes no time penetrating the offensive zone, and has a sniper’s shot. Despite his lack of production with the Blueshirts, he maintained a firm presence on the ice and was easily noticeable. It will take a bit time for him to adjust since he isn’t on a line of two All-Stars, but he has every capability to be a productive and impactful scorer in the NHL. And, similar to Spooner, Namestnikov can center a line or play on the wing.
We can see in this video how Namestnikov is able to get into excellent position on the powerplay, which then allows him to send a perfect pass over for a slam-dunk goal by Steven Stamkos on the man-advantage.
Trade Value: Moderate-High