2011 NHL Draft
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Namestnikov Blends Russian, North American Styles

Friday, 06.17.2011 / 11:08 AM ET / 2011 NHL Draft
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Namestnikov Blends Russian, North American Styles
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Author: Mike G. Morreale | NHL.com Staff Writer

Don't be fooled by the name Vladislav Namestnikov. He was born in Russia, but also possesses quite a bit of North American flair.
In fact, half his life has been spent in North America, so the phrase "culture shock" never has applied to the 18-year-old forward born in the industrial city of Voskresensk -- the birthplace of current and former NHL players such as Igor Larionov, Vyacheslav Kozlov, Valeri Kamensky, Andrei Markov and Valeri Zelepukin.
He tagged along with his dad, Jevgeni, who played eight seasons in North America, including parts of five seasons in the NHL with the Vancouver Canucks, New York Islanders and Nashville Predators, and was a big fan of his uncle, Kozlov, who won back-to-back Stanley Cups with the Detroit Red Wings in 1997 and '98.

"When I was 4 years old, my mom and dad put me on skates," Namestnikov told NHL.com. "I grew up watching my dad and uncle and they were a big influence. When I was here, the best advice I was given came from my dad. He told me to keep my head up because it's really physical. I'm used to the little surfaces of ice, and in Russia it's a little different, but I'm accustomed to that, too."

The lessons he learned at a young age have benefitted Namestnikov, who is considered one of the top North American skaters available for the 2011 Entry Draft, which will be held June 24-25 in St. Paul, Minn. He finished No. 11 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters. In 68 games with the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League, the 5-foot-11 1/2, 170-pound center recorded 30 goals, 68 points, a plus-12 rating and just 49 penalty minutes.

What Namestnikov might lack in size, he compensates for in straight-ahead speed.
"Vlad plays a high-energy, two-way game," Central Scouting's Chris Edwards told NHL.com. "He's very aggressive on the forecheck and backcheck and has the ability to beat defenders outside and cut back to the net. He has an excellent wrist shot that he can release with accuracy on the rush."
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When Namestnikov turned 8, he returned to Russia to hone his skills, playing for his hometown hockey school in Voskresensk while also competing internationally for his country and in senior leagues against men at a young age.
"I played with men as a 16-year-old and got stronger, so when I got over here (North America), I knew what was going on," he said.
At the 2009 World Under-17 Challenge, he had 8 goals and 10 points in five games. He then represented his country at the World Under-18 Championships that year, notching 7 points in seven games. Namestnikov would continue his rapid ascent up the Team Russia ladder playing against men in Russia's second division with Khimik Voskresensk, scoring 11 goals and 17 points in 26 games.
While Namestnikov considers it an honor to be compared to Larionov, he's holding out hope for the day hockey analysts will refer to him as the second coming of Detroit's Pavel Datsyuk. Lofty expectations for sure, but his two-way acumen, speed and smarts on the ice certainly are familiar traits.
"He's Russian but plays a North American-style game," London teammate Scott Harrington, No. 98 on Central Scouting's list, said. "He's good with the puck like most Russians, but he's got some grit to him and doesn't mind throwing the body around. He really competes out there and moves the puck well … qualities that will be very attractive to NHL scouts."
Niagara IceDogs defenseman Dougie Hamilton, Central Scouting's top-rated North American defenseman (No. 4 overall), also has been impressed by Namestnikov.
"We've played against them and he was definitely one of their fastest players," Hamilton said. "You just notice his speed a lot."
While he prefers center, Namestnikov is OK with filling in on the wing when needed. In fact, he admits he can play either side in a pinch and also has had success as a penalty killer.
"I find him most effective at center, but he is versatile enough to play a solid game on the wing," Edwards said. "He's very responsible defensively and is not afraid of getting involved and battling for pucks. He'll take the body and take a hit to make a play."
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at @mike_morreale




1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69


J. Jagr 79 27 39 23 66
J. Jokinen 81 18 42 25 60
A. Barkov 66 28 31 18 59
J. Huberdeau 76 20 39 17 59
V. Trocheck 76 25 28 15 53
R. Smith 82 25 25 19 50
A. Ekblad 78 15 21 18 36
N. Bjugstad 67 15 19 -8 34
B. Campbell 82 6 25 31 31
B. Pirri 52 11 13 -4 24
R. Luongo 35 19 6 .922 2.35
A. Montoya 12 7 3 .919 2.18

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