VANCOUVER - The newly acquired Vladislav Namestnikov is excited by the direction his new team is going in.
The 25-year-old, who was acquired by New York on Monday in a trade with Tampa Bay, admitted it was "tough" to get the news he was leaving the Lightning, the only NHL team he'd known since being drafted in 2011, but that the road ahead with the Rangers was one that is appealing to him.
"It's tough but I think there's a bright future here with the Rangers and what they're trying to accomplish in building a young team," he told reporters before making his Rangers debut in Vancouver.
Namestnikov, who had 20 goals and 24 assists with the Lightning, both career-highs, will skate at center on a line with Jimmy Vesey and Mats Zuccarello.
Coach Alain Vigneault said while Namestnikov can play both forward positions, he'll start with him at center.
"I've been told he's a centerman. My recollection of him in Tampa is he plays both positions," he said. "[GM Jeff Gorton] told me this year he's played more at center, he's been effective. He got in late last night and we had meetings today. I haven't had time to sit down with him and go through every little thing here. But for tonight, he's going to start in the middle."
Gorton spoke often of opportunity for young players as he remodels the organization that made four trades involving roster players prior to Monday's deadline. Certainly that includes Namestnikov, who is encouraged by the direction and is looking forward to playing a part in future success with a team that has a lineage like the Rangers.
"I was excited. I think it's a new opportunity for me," he said. "To come to such a great organization with so much history is a pretty good feeling."