New York Rangers: It’s about time that Namestnikov was dumped off

Vladislav Namestnikov, New York Rangers. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Vladislav Namestnikov, New York Rangers. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

The New York Rangers have finally traded Vlad Namestnikov. He will now “be of service” the young and ailing Ottawa Senators franchise.

The New York Rangers finally slammed the gavel on a move I have personally waited for some time to happen. GM Jeff Gorton traded away Vlad Namestnikov. He palmed off the underachieving forward on the lowly Ottawa Senators.

In return, the Rangers received a 2021 fourth-round-pick and an AHL player, Nick Ebert, in other words, table scraps. This value, mixed with the fact that the trade comes at such a bizarre time, shows that this is clearly a cap-dump situation.

I was 100% set on the idea that the Rangers were trading Namestnikov at the deadline in February. But, it’s hard to find takers for a bottom-six forward on a young team that scored 31 points while making $4M a year.

The Rangers acquired Namestnikov at the 2018 trade deadline in the package that came for Ryan McDonagh and J.T. Miller. Shortly after they signed him to a two-year extension worth $8M. That move was surprising. I didn’t see much of a future for him on this team then, as I certainly didn’t entering 2019-20, given all the youth the New York Rangers accrued since his arrival.

The Rangers had plenty of RFAs to lock up at the time, so I guess they wanted all their ducks in a row as they approached decisions throughout the course of last season. As this summer waned on, it became apparent that Gorton had trouble trying to find a match despite dangling Namestnikov around to the league.

I almost thought they’d be stuck with the disappointing forward until the end of this season. They would have been forced to play him unless he really declined. Namestnikov was just the odd man out here. There was no reason to keep him in the lineup with an expendable role on the bottom six while at the same time keeping blue-chip first-rounders like Filip Chytil and Vitali Kravtsov in Hartford.

Now that Namestnikov is finally gone, it’s good for the Rangers in a couple of ways. The trade gives some breathing room to not only the forward depth but also adds some cap room to resign Chris Kreider. The Rangers had an ultimatum this summer to trade or sign Kreider. Nothing coming to a head tells me that given the new additions, they wanted to feel this team out first to see where this season was headed.

The New York Rangers have now freed up over $3 million in cap space and will likely be debuting Greg McKegg in the lineup against Edmonton. I’m not sure what could have initiated this talk, but if there was one team to unload Namestnikov on, it was Ottawa.

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The Senators ended as the worst team in hockey with 64 points last season. They have had a massive roster overhaul over the last couple of years. They are in another limbo season and could use some experience on their roster to balance the youth. I’m sure Namestnikov will be happy returning to playing top-six minutes too.

Who knows if the 26-year-old will remain in Canada’s capitol come post-deadline, as they could flip him given he is a pending UFA. But then again, what contender would be on the prowl for Vlad Namestnikov.

I think it’s quite humorous he was sent to Ottawa only 48 hours after the game there. Almost as if Sens GM Pierre Dorion stormed into a front office meeting, slammed his fists on the table, and exclaimed, “We must trade for Namestnikov!” It’s also humorous to think that within less than two seasons, this guy went from playing alongside Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos to…Ottawa.

So now we can get a clear view on the final return for the 2018 Tampa deadline deal: Ryan McDonagh and J.T. Miller for Libor Hajek, Brett Howden, Nils Lundkvist, Karl Henriksson, Nick Ebert, and a 2021 fourth-rounder.

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Considering Tampa failed to win the Stanley Cup two years straight and Miller was traded to Vancouver in the offseason,  the Rangers handily won this trade. The way I see it: the knife carves one more piece off of the soap as this team takes another step in shaping into a final product.