While everyone is worrying about and speculating on how the Red Wings brain trust will fill the hole left by Rafalski's retirement, we can't forget the NHL Draft (June 24-25) is rapidly approaching and lists are being finalized for finding Detroit's next Steve Yzerman.
If we're thinking offencively, Detroit likes to draft Centers that are in the 5' 10" to 6' 1" range, fast & flexible like Pavel Datsyuk or Val Filppula or even Chris Draper. They're thinking is, it's easier to switch a center to a wing spot than vice versa. Available in this upcoming draft is a Russian that could pique their interests.
Vladislav Namestnikov, born in Voskresensk, Russia in November of 1992, is a 6' 0" 166lb. center for the London Knights in the OHL. Namestnikov led the Knights in goals with 30, and finished second in team scoring with 68 points in 68 games played, and was fifth in scoring among rookies league-wide. Quoting NHL Central Scouting’s Chris Edwards: “Vlad plays a high-energy, two-way game. 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. I find him most effective at center, but he is versatile enough to play a solid game on the wing, 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”.
At just 166lbs, he'll have to hit the weight room and fill out a bit so he doesn't get beat up by taller, older players but, considering his father, Evgeny, was drafted with the 117th overall pick (1991) of the Vancouver Canucks, played 43 NHL career games with the Canucks, New York Islanders and Nashville Predators from 1993 to 2000 and his mother was an elite Russian figure skater, it sounds like he's genetically destined for the NHL. The kicker ... his mother is the sister of former Detroit Red Wing Slava Kozlov.
Yep, he's Kozzy's nephew ... and if that isn't enough to make you go 'oooooooooo', read the rest of the scouting reports on this kid in Brendan Ross's article posted at The Hockey Writers.com.