Breaking Down Vladislav Namestnikov Trade For the Ottawa Senators

Vladislav Namestnikov
OTTAWA, ON - OCTOBER 5: Bobby Ryan #9 of the Ottawa Senators taps the puck through the legs of Vladislav Namestnikov #90 of the New York Rangers at Canadian Tire Centre on October 5, 2019 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images)

On Tuesday night, the Ottawa Senators and New York Rangers made a trade. The Sens sent a 2021 fourth-round pick to New York in return for Vladislav Namestnikov. Namestnikov is mainly a winger who can play some centre as needed. He has one year left on his contract and because the Rangers retained $750,000, the contract carries a cap hit of 3.25 million dollars. Let’s break down the Vladislav Namestnikov trade for the Ottawa Senators.

Vladislav Namestnikov To Ottawa

On-Ice Impact

Let’s start with Namestnikov’s on-ice impact. Last season, he had 31 points in 78 games with the Rangers. His career-high came in 2017-18 when he had 48 points between New York and the Tampa Bay Lightning. Namestnikov came over to the Rangers in the Ryan McDonagh trade. However, of the 48 points, only four of them were with the Rangers in 19 games. Namestnikov has never appeared to be a massive scorer and part of the Tampa boost was playing with skilled players like Steven Stamkos and crew.

What Namestnikov does bring though, is a solid defensive game. From HockeyViz, we can see his isolated defensive impact.

Namestnikov is always an above-average defensive player. When he is on the ice the other team struggles to create chances. The encouraging thing about this is that it wasn’t all inflated by being on a great team like Tampa. Unlike his points, Namestnikov’s defensive play actually improved when he went to New York. If he can bring a defensive aspect to Ottawa that could be a huge help. The Senators gave up a league-leading 65.43 shot attempts against per 60 minutes last season. This comes from NaturalStatTrick. In comparison, Vladislav Namestnikov’s CA/60 was just 55.77, the second-best on his team among forwards.

This defensive impact could be a big addition for Ottawa and would be an improvement on other bottom-six players like Jean-Gabriel Pageau or Chris Tierney.

Short-Term Deal

The best part of this deal for Ottawa is simply the term. With Namestnikov in his last season, the Sens have the option to simply let him go if things don’t work out. However, if things do work the Sens have even more options.

The first option could be to extend him. This may not be the best choice, depending on the money he is asking for. If the Sens can keep it to another short-term deal there likely wouldn’t be an issue. Vladislav Namestnikov is a defence first forward that could help the young guys going forward. However, if he wants anything more than a year or two it would likely be in Ottawa’s best interest to let him walk. With so many young players it isn’t wise to lock in-depth players for the future.

The other option would be for Ottawa to flip him at the deadline. This seems like it could be the most likely option. It would certainly make sense, especially if they can get more than the fourth-round pick they gave up for him. Namestnikov would help the depth of just about any playoff team looking to make a push with his defence first mindset a strong trait for the playoffs. He likely won’t fetch a first-round pick but if Ottawa can boost his value it certainly is possible they receive more than a fourth-round pick for him come the deadline.

Young Guys

Here is the biggest issue with the Namestnikov acquisition. It doesn’t leave room for the young players. Yes, sometimes players can use some AHL development. Guys like Drake Batherson probably could have been giving more of a look but can also use some AHL time. Logan Brown and Batherson should both be up come trade deadline time but for now, it can be fine to let them develop. However, at times you need to see what you have in guys too.

Filip Chlapik has already spent 2 full seasons in Belleville and by all accounts has been good down there. At some point, you need to know what you have in players and part of the development should be playing in the NHL as well. Chlapik is already 22-years old and while that seems young, he is already getting ready to enter his prime. Figuring out what you have in him as a player at the NHL level this season should have been the key for Ottawa. If he isn’t ready now it seems likely he won’t be ready soon. Another half-year in the AHL won’t help much.

The Sens also need more than a five-minute sample size to determine whether or not a player is ready. Scratching Chlapik and playing him under 10-minutes a game when he does play is terrible development, whether you think a player is ready or not. A player can’t be expected to perform when they play that little. As well, when the pressure is that high on someone like Chlapik who relies on his skill to play, he is going to be more nervous to make plays and do the skilled things that he can. Ultimately, it leads to a player not playing his game which hurts his development more than anything. Playing him more and giving more trust even when mistakes happen should be the focus.

Belleville

Here comes the biggest issue with a lack of roster space in the NHL. All the “developing” down in Belleville now takes a huge toll on other players who should be getting that development instead. Max Veronneau may be a healthy scratch at times this year and he should be getting top-six minutes in Belleville. Even someone like Chlapik hasn’t cracked the top-six.

Josh Norris is another name that should be up at the top of the lineup but is now playing a depth role. Having “lots of young talent” is great but when you’re not willing to give said talent a shot it isn’t going to work out well. This isn’t just about Vladislav Namestnikov either, it’s why using a roster spot on someone like Scott Sabourin is a waste. Yes, he provides some “grit” but he is a career bottom line AHLer and has no future with this team.

Moving Ahead

Overall, Vladislav Namestnikov makes sense for an on-ice perspective in Ottawa. He will make the team better and may even bring in a better return at the deadline. If not, you can re-sign him and that gives you the ability to trade other guys on this team.

However, the issue comes from an overall organization problem that seems to arise. There is a very crowded roster down in Belleville and it’s going to lead to some ice time issues moving forward. For now, fans should look forward to what Namestnikov can bring. He has shown potential in the past and being another reclamation project for Ottawa could have potential in it going forward.

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