In another (perhaps expected) move that will weaken the depth of the Montreal Canadiens defense, the team will not qualify Nikita Nesterov according to Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet, making him an unrestricted free agent at the end of the month. After also trading away Mikhail Sergachev yesterday, it’s clear the team has some other plans for the blueline in 2017-18.
Nesterov never really did fit into the Canadiens schemes after being acquired in January from the Tampa Bay Lightning. In just 13 games for club, he recorded five points but played under 16 minutes a night. The writing seemed to be on the wall when he suited up for just two games in the playoffs for the team. The 24-year old actually is a positive possession player, meaning he’ll likely find a home with a more analytically-leaning front office around the league.
Just this month his agent Dan Milstein announced that Nesterov would like to stay in the NHL, despite the KHL reaching out to try and bring him back to Russia. There does seem to be some upside to Nesterov, but any deal will have to come with very little risk for the team.
The Canadiens continue to be linked to defensemen around the league, and also think highly of the newly acquired Jakub Jerabek. The Czech defender is expected to step right into the NHL and compete for minutes, giving the team another option for the bottom pairing.