Despite their moderate improvement over last season, the 18-17-5 Red Wings don’t figure to find themselves embroiled in a deep playoff run this spring, and as a result, they will be looking to move some veteran players with expiring contracts for draft picks. One such player that fits that description is Red Wings center Vladislav Namestnikov, who will be entering free agency following this season, and is easily moveable with a modest $2 million cap hit.
The 29-year-old Russian was traded at the deadline two seasons ago when the Colorado Avalanche acquired his services in exchange for a 4th round pick, before signing a 2-year, $4 million contract with Detroit in the offseason. The asking price should be similar for Nemestnikov this time around, as he is having another good season (20 points, +1, in 40 games) despite playing for a mediocre team.
The Tampa Bay Lightning do not own their 3rd or 4th round pick this season, but perhaps the Wings would settle for a pick in next year’s draft where the Lightning have all but their 2nd round pick to offer. The Athletic’s Eric Duhatschek suggests that Tampa Bay may be interested in a reunion with the two-way center to help bolster their bottom-six group of forwards, which was depleted by free agency, and a number of cap-friendly moves they were forced to make this past offseason.
Nemestinkov could replace Pierre-Edouard Bellemare as the 3rd line center between Patrick Maroon and Corey Perry, moving Bellmare down to his more natural fit at 4th line center. The Lightning can use all the depth they can get, as they have dealt with injuries to key players all season, including Nikita Kucherov and Braden Point.
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