Vladislav Namestnikov is part of a talented group of prospects for the Lightning. Could he be the next standout in 2014?
One thing every team needs is a strong group of prospects. According to HockeysFuture.com, the Tampa Bay Lightning have the No. 9-ranked prospect system led by a talented group of forwards. There are a few prospects who could make a splash in 2014 and be a standout rookie next season.
What exactly is a rookie? A rookie (via NHL.com) is a player who “must not have played in more than 25 NHL games in any preceding seasons, nor in six or more NHL games in each of any two preceding seasons. Any player at least 26 years of age (by September 15th of that season) is not considered a rookie.”
With that definition in mind, here are the Lightning prospects who could be rookie standouts in 2014.
Andrej Sustr is a big body who the Lightning could use to clog up passing lanes next year.
Andrej Sustr made his NHL debut late in 2013 after finishing his career at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. He played in two games for the Bolts and went plus-one in just over 10 minutes of ice time per game.
The Czech Republic native is a gigantic presence on the blue line. At 6’8” and 225 pounds, Sustr takes up a lot of space and can disrupt a lot of passing lanes.
Puck-moving defensemen are a hot commodity for the Lightning.
Mark Barberio played in two games for the Lightning this season, but still maintains his rookie status.
Another defensive prospect who could see significant minutes for the Bolts is Mark Barberio. He is one of the highest-rated prospects in the system, and at 6’1” and 190 pounds, he has a good frame.
He netted 61 points in 2011-12 and 42 more this season for the Lightning’s American Hockey League affiliate (Norfolk/Syracuse). Another solid puck-moving defenseman with great vision and offensive ability makes Barberio a worthy selection.
Namestnikov is often overlooked with the amount of talent the Bolts have in the system. He could slip through the cracks and into stardom soon.
Vladislav Namestnikov has garnered a lot of attention since he was picked 27th overall in the 2011 entry draft. Namestnikov has had issues staying healthy, but he is a very solid two-way forward.
He has great speed, which could open up a lot of ice for the established veterans and improve the Lightning’s transition game. Namestnikov is the nephew of Vyacheslav “Slava” Kozlov—a 19-year NHL veteran so he has a family history in the professional game.
He is a bit of a long shot to make the roster in 2013-14, but if he gets healthy and utilizes the offseason, he may work his way into stardom.
Seth Jones is a consensus No. 1 pick, but the rest is a guess. Tampa Bay will have a ton of talent to pick from at No. 3.
Center Nathan MacKinnon is the No. 2. Left wing Jonathan Drouin could be the best available for the Lightning with the No. 3 pick. What about Valeri Nichushkin—the powerful and skilled Russian forward who could make an impact immediately?
Damien Cristodero of the Tampa Bay Times provides interesting insight to the No. 3 pick.