Nikita Nesterov Headed Back to the KHL

According to his agent, defenceman Nikita Nesterov has opted to return to the KHL. The defencemen became an unrestricted free agent on July 1st, following the Montreal Canadiens deciding not to give him a qualifying offer.

Nikita Nesterov Headed Back to the KHL

Nesterov signed a one-year, $725,000 contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning in late September after hitting many career highs in 2015-2016. He appeared in 35 games averaging just over 16 minutes of ice time per game on the bottom pairing. He was later traded to the Canadiens late January for defenceman Jonathan Racine and a 6th round pick in 2017.

The 24-year-old was suppose to add more depth to the defensive core, but once the Canadiens fired Michel Therrien, and hired Claude Julien, Nesterov was a consistent healthy scratch. In fact, the defenseman played in just seven of the last 24 regular season contests. He also participated in only two of the six playoff games against the New York Rangers in the first round.

The Russian was originally selected in the fifth round (148th overall) in the 2011 NHL Draft. He’s an offensive defencemen, who put up an impressive 54 Corsi-for percentage during his time with Tampa Bay and Montreal. However, those minutes were heavily sheltered for zone starts and opposition.

In the limited time this season, Nesterov hit career highs in many offensive categories. He piled up four goals, 13 assists and 17 points. The young defenseman continues to get better every year, but hasn’t experienced a true opportunity to display his talents in his three-year career.

Nesterov has taken part in 119 career games, stacking up only 28 points while averaging 15:30 minutes per game. The Russian has a career Corsi-for percentage of 52.2 and a Fenwick-for percentage of 50.2.

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