The 2011 NHL Entry Draft is scheduled to be held on June 24–25, 2011, in St. Paul Minnesota. It’s the first time the draft has been held in the state of Minnesota since 1989.
Some of the top prospects in this year’s draft class include Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Adam Larsson, Sean Couturier, and Gabriel Landeskog.
The Detroit Red Wings hold the 24th overall selection of the first round. It’s a selection that I believe if invested properly, could yield a future NHL All-Star.
That future All-Star is 18 year old phenom Vladislav Namestnikov. He is a prolific play-maker, and it’s highly probable that he could be available to Detroit at the 24th pick.
Due to his size Namestnikov has been largely overlooked.
With the proper direction, I believe that he could be the second coming of Pavel Datsyuk in Detroit.
As a young prospect Pavel Datsyuk was passed over in the 1996 and 1997 NHL Entry Drafts. Though he was a seemingly effortless skater with high-end offensive talent, Pavel’s lack of size caused most NHL general managers to overlook him.
It wasn’t until the 1998 NHL Entry Draft that Detroit would take Datsyuk with the 171st overall selection. It was there where Datsyuk excelled under the veteran tutelage of Red Wing legends Igor Larionov, Sergei Federov and Steve Yzerman.
Today, the Detroit Red Wings assistant captain is widely considered the best two-way forward in the National Hockey League.
At 6 feet and 163 pounds, Vladislav Namestnikov is facing the same criticism that Datsyuk did. Also similar to Datsyuk, Namestnikov is considered a seriously skilled offensive threat. Vladislav has great top-end speed and exceptional stick handling. He is an assassin in open ice and boasts a sniper-like precision in his shot.
In my opinion, Namestnikov is one of the most skilled centers available in this year’s draft.
Detroit has a strong lineage of playmakers, and Namestnikov with the right direction could be the next in line. Vladislav would flourish under the veteran leadership of Datsyuk and fellow NHL all-star Henrik Zetterberg.
Some believe that Namestnikov would be better suited by serving another year under the direction of London Knights head coach Dale Hunter in the Ontario Hockey League.
I feel like the Detroit Red Wings are one of the few teams in the National Hockey League that could actually promote immediate growth in a young prospect like Namestnikov. A couple of months with pro NHL trainers and nutritionists and Vladislav could easily add 20-25 pounds to his frame.
Namestnikov comes from a proud Russian lineage. His father, Evgeny Namestnikov played six seasons in the NHL. His mother was an elite figure skater in Russia. His uncle is former Detroit Red Wings Stanley Cup champion forward Slava Kozlov. In an interview for NHL.com, Vladislav said about his uncle: “He always took me to the rink and showed me the locker room, got to meet all the guys. So it was really great growing up with him. (My favorite was) probably Steve Yzerman. He was the captain of the Red Wings at that time.”
The Detroit Red Wings have won four Stanley Cup titles since Ken Holland was promoted to general manager in 1997. He has made a career of finding diamonds in the rough. Overall Holland has served 27 years with the organization.
Holland has drafted, developed and acquired some of the greatest talents in the team’s storied history.
There is no doubt in my mind that Ken Holland has his eye on the young Russian, and if you’re a Detroit Red Wings fan you should too.