Namestnikov enjoys NHLPA Rookie Showcase
Lightning center prospect Vladislav Namestnikov wasn't much of a card collector growing up, but he did manage to keep every single one he could find with his uncle, former Red Wings forward Slava Kozlov, on the front.
Over the weekend, Namestnikov got to pose for a card of his own, made by Upper Deck, during the NHLPA Rookie Showcase in Toronto.
"It's pretty neat," he said.
Namestnikov, 21, joined 32 other prospects, including Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy, at the event, which also included photo shoots, autograph signings and a group scrimmage at the site of the old Maple Leaf Gardens. The group visited the NHL Hall of Fame, even competed in an EA Sports NHL 15 video game tournament.
"It's nice to get invited to an event like this," Namestnikov said. "An honor."
Namestnikov is coming off a strong season for AHL Syracuse (19 goals, 29 points), with his highlight a four-game call-up in the NHL, including a debut against the Red Wings. "Something special," he said.
Namestnikov felt he took a step last season, and is eager to show his improvements in training camp next month.
"The biggest thing I improved is defense," he said. "It's a big part of the pro game. Other part is I got a little stronger and more confident. That was probably the biggest difference."
After a brief stint in the NHL last season, Namestnikov wants to open some eyes in camp. Though the roster appears pretty close to set, Namestnikov is likely to make an impact on the Lightning at some point this season.
"I've got a taste of what the NHL is like," Namestnikov said. "I'm even hungrier now. I want to be there and stay there."