Detroit Red Wings: 3 newcomers to track in Thursday’s season opener

Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports /
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Detroit Red Wings,
Detroit Red Wings, /

The Detroit Red Wings kick off the 2021 season by hosting the Carolina Hurricanes Thursday night.  Here are three newcomers to watch.

Hurray! Tonight is the night hockey returns to Motown.  Things are quickly taking shape for the Detroit Red Wings heading into the 2021 COVID-19 shortened season.  It’s a season like no other; many of us can relate.

The NHL has realigned their divisions to limit travel.  Teams won’t be permitted to play regular-season games outside of their eight-team divisions. So, for instance, the Detroit Red Wings will play each of their seven divisional opponents a whopping eight times, making the regular-season total of 56 games.

One thing to note is that the Canadian or North Division fields the seven Canadian teams, so they may need to play each other nine or ten times throughout the year.  Playing each other so often throughout the year may create plenty of friction and make for some exciting games throughout the season.

The Detroit Red Wings will see a renewed rivalry with an old foe, the Chicago Blackhawks.  Also in Detroit’s division will be the Carolina Hurricanes, Columbus Blue Jackets, Dallas Stars, Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning, and Nashville Predators.

As the season kicks off, let’s take a look at three newcomers to the squad to watch in Thursday’s season opener.

Vladislav Namestnikov

The Russian forward is expected to play both center and wing for the Detroit Red Wings in 2021 and is slated to start Detroit’s second line alongside Robby Fabbri and Filip Zadina.

Vladislav Namestnikov just so happens to be the nephew of former Red Wings legend Vladislav Kozlov.  The Red Wings signed Namestnikov to a two-year deal worth $4 million this past offseason.

Namestnikov brings a plethora of flexibility to the Red Wings roster with his ableness to play both the wing or center and playing up and down the lineup.  Namestnikov will be starting on the second line, but after Bobby Ryan returns from injury, there is a good chance we see him slide down to the third unit, which also lengthens Detroit’s lineup.

The Red Wings had a serious depth-scoring need entering the offseason, and Yzerman addressed it with Namestnikov and Ryan, both low-risk, moderate reward-type players.

The 28-year old Namestnikov played his junior hockey with the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League, just a mere two-hour drive down highway 401 from Detroit in Ontario, Canada.  The Tampa Bay Lightning initially drafted Namestnikov in the first round of the 2011 NHL Entry Level Draft with the 27th overall pick.

Namestnikov has achieved 189 points, 83 goals in 425 NHL contests.  Let’s see how he plays tonight as a top-six forward in Detroit.