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Monday, June 6, 2011

NHL Combine video: Vladislav Namestnikov is one smooth operator

The speedy London Knights center is all Russian, but if North America issued passports, you could call him a dual citizen as he's spent most of his young life in the United States and Canada.

B2011DW has pretty much laid out Namestnikov's backstory and game in the past, but here's the Cliff's Notes version: Excellent skater who can make a plethora of moves at top speed and is a dangerous threat to score every time his skates touch the ice. The biggest knock on him is his slight frame, as he barely tops out at six-feet and is thin- much like his uncle Vycheslav "Slava" Kozlov, who didn't allow his lean frame to hinder him during a nice NHL career. We think that Namestnikov is so instinctive, such a natural scorer that even if he never packs on the pounds, he's going to be an NHLer one day because he's so skilled.

We also happen to think he's a terrific kid. Notice in the video how when we ask him about his "sick mitts" and reference teammate Jared Knight's assessment of him, he turns it around and starts talking about what a good player and teammate his friend is. That kind of natural humility is why hockey players by and large are such a joy to be around compared to their peers in the other major sports.

Vladdy has a lot going for him. He's one of the most talented forwards available in this class and could develop into something special. Even if he doesn't reach expectations in the NHL, he has the character and attitude to be a success at anything he does.

The Bruins would love to steal him with the 40th overall selection in the second round, but we can't even remotely envision a scenario where that would be possible. Whichever team grabs him in the first round is going to have a winner on their hands.

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