After spending most of the offseason putting on 15 pounds of muscle, Vladislav Namestnikov is starting to see the results.
The second year Syracuse Crunch center, who trained in the summer with Joe Neal at 2SP Elite Athletic Development in Michigan, has used his new-found mass to register six points in the first five games of the season. He's adjusting to his new role as the team's top center, but at 6-feet, 185 pounds, Namestnikov is still working to get bigger.
"I think I got a little faster, and in the corners I'm winning more battles," the 20-year-old said. "It's good."
Crunch coach Rob Zettler believes Namestnikov is being rewarded for playing to his strength.
The Syracuse Crunch lineup still has a few question marks heading into a home-and-home series with the Binghamton Senators this weekend.
With Brett Connolly called up to the Tampa Bay Lightning and Charles Landry and Maxime Langelier-Parent sent to ECHL Florida on Wednesday, the Crunch are down to 19 skaters -- 12 forwards and seven defensemen.
Although Syracuse is unsure if Connolly will return by the puck drop at the Onondaga County War Memorial Friday, Crunch coach Rob Zettler has confidence in the forward lines he assembled at practice Thurday, which included moving Evan Rankin into Connolly's spot with Tanner Richard and Geoff Walker.
With almost as many surgeries as games played in the last year, Maxime Langelier-Parent is focusing on the things he can change.
The Florida Everblades forward, sent down from the Syracuse Crunch Wednesday, was held to three games with the ECHL Everblades last year after undergoing surgeries on his hip and lower back. Despite signing AHL pacts with the Crunch in 2012 and 2013, the Montreal native is still waiting to make his American league debut.
"It's not something I control," Langelier-Parent said after practicing with the Crunch Tuesday. "So I'm just trying to do the best I can with the stuff I can control -- working out in the gym and on the ice, and just getting used to the pro hockey lifestyle."
We continue our Prospect of the Week award, an honor (virtually) given to one Tampa Bay Lightning prospect for their recent contributions on and off the ice.
The Prospect of the Week for October 16, 2013 is … Nikita Kucherov, W (Syracuse Crunch, AHL, USA).
Thank you, Patrick Roy.
One of the most underrated pieces of Lightning news in the past 15 months is Patrick Roy, then general manager of the QMJHL’s Quebec Remparts, drafting young Nikita Kucherov out of Russia in the CHL Import Draft.
It was an eventful weekend for Artem Sergeev.
The Syracuse Crunch defenseman notched his first professional goal in a 5-1 rout of Rochester on Saturday, then followed it up with his first professional fight against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton's Simon Despres on Sunday.
"It was actually pretty quick off a faceoff, (Brett) Connolly did a great job winning the draw right to my one-timer side," Sergeev said of his power play goal. "I didn't hesitate."