Vlad Namestnikov’s future with the Rangers
The Russian forward who was acquired by the Rangers last season from Tampa Bay has increased his productivity as of late, tallying eight points in his last 11 games, but his future with the Rangers is up for a debate.
Vlad Namestnikov’s name was brought up momentarily during the trade deadline this year, as a middle-six forward with speed and the ability to score will always draw interest from various teams around the league. As we know now, the Rangers held onto Namestnikov, but that isn’t to say they aren’t thinking of moving him in the offseason.
There are many reasons why the Rangers might consider moving Namestnikov in the offseason. One being the fact they intend to spend some money this offseason. As Pierre LeBrun reported last week, the Rangers hope to have the ability to talk to the top two free agents of 2019, Erik Karlsson and Artemi Panarin. If the Rangers are serious about bringing those two team-altering players to the Big Apple, the Rangers must move Namestnikov’s $4 million that he is due next year. These two players would each bring in a minimum of $20 million combined AAV, so if that’s the case, Namestnikov must go.
Another scenario where Namestnikov could be moved will be on draft day. Since the Rangers hold Winnpeg’s first round pick, which will definitely be on the back-half of the first round, Namestnikov and that pick could be moved for the Rangers to jump up on the board. The Rangers did the same thing at last years draft, but combined two picks (a first and a second) to move up a few spots in the draft. Anything is possible on draft day.
The last scenario Namestnikov is moved is if the Rangers just don’t see the fit for next year. Although Namestnikov will turn just 27 at the beginning of next season, his numbers aren’t technically worth keeping. He currently has 24 points in 61 games, and who is to say that a young prospect for the Rangers can’t post those similar stats without bringing in a $4 million salary. Also, the return for Namestnikov could be too good for Jeff Gorton and company to deny. If Namestnikov carries the way he is playing now until the end of the season, a team might be willing to part with a second round pick for the versatile forward. Namestnikov’s departure would surely bring back a middle round draft pick and shed some salary, while opening a spot for a young prospect to play more minutes for the rebuilding Rangers.
The value in holding onto Namestnikov for next season is to hope he can do what he is doing now, become a consistent playmaker for the Blueshirts and lead by example. Although his numbers don’t seem to go parallel with that statement, it’s hard to deny a roster spot to a guy that still has the potential to flick on the light switch and is producing the way he is in the month of February. The unknown of the development of young Rangers players may force the hand of the team to at least start the season with Namestnikov in the lineup, as the rebuilding process of getting prospects into the lineup isn’t as easy as 1, 2, 3.
So What Happens?
It’s obviously too early to say what the Rangers plans are with Vlad Namestnikov, but in my opinion, it will be the in the Rangers best interest to part ways with the forward. Moving up on draft day while putting Namestnikov in a deal could be the best option, as is selling him at a high at any point over the summer. As for right now, let’s hope Namestnikov keeps racking up the points and shows why he’s a solid playmaker, for the Rangers sake and for the eyes of his potential future teams.