Leading up to the 2011 draft, Flordiapanthers.com will be highlighting some of the top prospects to look out for. At number 3, the Panthers have a lot of players to choose from. What direction and who will they pick?
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THE SKINNY: Vladislav Namestnikov made a healthy jump from the mid-term rankings, moving from 17th, to 11th in the final vote. His boost followed a strong season in which Namestnikov led his Knights team with 30 goals, 11 of those coming on the power play. Namestnikov also has a strong international playing career, scoring seven points in seven games at the 2010 Under-18 World Championships for Russia.
Hockey runs throughout Namestnikov’s family, as his father Evgeny played in the NHL for eight seasons and his uncle is the famous Vyacheslav “Slava” Kozlov.
NHL Central Scouting's Chris Edwards: "Vlad plays a high-energy, two-way game he's very aggressive on the forecheck and backcheck and has the ability to beat defenders outside and cut back to the net. He has an excellent wrist shot that he can release with accuracy on the rush. "I find him most effective at center, but he is versatile enough to play a solid game on the wing, he's very responsible defensively and is not afraid of getting involved and battling for pucks. He'll take the body and take a hit to make a play."
NHL Team: Detroit Red Wings NHL Player: Pavel Datsyuk Shootout Move: "Forehand, backhand, forehand, shot" Cartoon: Scooby-Doo Movie: The Hangover Sport (other than hockey): Ping-Pong and Tennis Pump-up song: "I'm Not Afraid" by Eminem
In fact, half his life has been spent in North America, so the phrase "culture shock" never has applied to the 18-year-old forward born in the industrial city of Voskresensk -- the birthplace of current and former NHL players such as Igor Larionov, Vyacheslav Kozlov, Valeri Kamensky, Andrei Markov and Valeri Zelepukin.