Tampa Bay Lighting defenseman Nikita Nesterov will return to the team in 2016-2017 on a one-year NHL deal worth $725,000. The 23-year-old was a member of the Russian National Team that finished in fourth in the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.
Nesterov has split the last two seasons between Tampa Bay and the team’s AHL affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch. However, 57 of the 67 games he appeared in last year were with the Lightning and he had three goals and six assists with the team during the regular season.
After playing in 17 games in the playoffs for the Lightning in 2014-2015, Nesterov played in all nine games for Tampa Bay this past year. He would add just one assist, but he has now played in 26 playoff games and accrued seven points in that span.
A native of Chelyabinsk, Russia, Nesterov was selected in the fifth-round of the 2011 NHL Draft. Even so, before he would ink a three-year deal with the Lightning in 2013, he would first play for Traktor Chelyabinsk in Russia for two years, playing in only 45 games and scoring two points. He would then make the move from one cold part of the world to another in Syracuse, where the Lightning have their AHL affiliate.
In his 84 career regular season games with the Lightning, Nesterov has scored five goals and dished out 11 assists. He is currently projected for the team’s third defensive pairing, alongside Braydon Coburn. On a notoriously stingy Lightning defense, it becomes tough to move up the ranks with the likes of Victor Hedman and Anton Stralman manning the top defensive pairing for Tampa Bay.