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09-19-2013, 03:58 PM
TheDaysOf 04
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“I think confidence is the biggest difference for me from the first camp,’’ Namestnikov said.
“Vladdy went from potential healthy scratch (at the start of the season) to a guy that was hurt, to a top-six forward, and he did that all in one year,’’ said Lightning coach Jon Cooper, who was the coach with Syracuse before being promoted to Lightning bench boss. “So that’s a really, really good sign of a prospect to see somebody do that.

“Regardless of what happens here, whether he makes the Tampa Bay Lightning or he has to go back and get more seasoned in Syracuse, there is just bright signs ahead for him, because you can tell the way he has developed himself in his first year pro.’’
“He is really aware on the ice and just has an extremely high skill set,’’ Cooper said.

Since his draft year, when Namestnikov tipped the scales around 165 pounds, he has bulked up to 185 pounds, and that has helped him. Back in that first training camp, “it was real easy to knock me off the puck, now it’s a little bit harder,’’ he said.

While the added muscle has certainly helped his cause on the ice, his quick adaptation making the jump from junior the AHL in a short period of time is the biggest reason for his ascension up the depth chart.

“You can see where these guys, and I say it time and time again, when the game slows down for them, and I think it’s done that for Vlad, especially when I got to watch the playoffs,’’ Cooper said.
“I just to need to play my game, get out there and play well in the defensive zone, take it into the offensive zone, try to prove that I can make the team,’’ Namestnikov said. “I think the coaches know how I play, and I just need to continue doing that, and hopefully if they like me I can make the jump to the next level.’’

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