As the season rolls on for the Syracuse Crunch, sophomore defenseman Nikita Nesterov just gets better and better. Each month he has been able to increase his point totals from the previous month, and Nesterov does not show signs of stopping. He opened December by posting a two assist night in helping the Crunch take down the Hartford Wolf Pack 6-5.
The Lightning selected Nesterov in the fifth round, No. 148 overall, in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. The native of Chelyabinsk, Russia, is in his second season with the Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League. Nesterov is seen as an offensive-minded defenseman who is not afraid to join in the rush or use his shot from the point. Syracuse assistant coach Stacy Roest had high praise for the young Russian: “This year, he is basically our defensive leader down there.”
So far in the 2014-15 season, Nesterov has recorded two goals and 11 points in 23 contests. It is his increasing point totals month to month that are most intriguing. After recording one goal and an assist in October, he added one goal and six assists in November. He has notched two assists in two games to kick-off December and will only look to surpass the seven points he registered last month.
Roest also has noticed the improvements both offensively and defensively, saying that Nesterov is playing a more calm and confident game. “He’s our main guy on the power play down there, which helps,” Roest said. “He’s moving pucks better.” With more time on the first power-play unit, Nesterov will look to keep chugging along offensively.
Last season Nesterov registered four goals and 16 points in 54 games. It would be safe to say he will most likely surpass those totals this year. He was also a minus-2 on the campaign last year. While it is typically harder for defensemen to be positive players, Nesterov has done just that this season as he is currently a plus-5.
Before coming across the pond to play North American professional hockey, Nesterov played in 35 games for Traktor Chelyabink in the Kontinental Hockey League, or the Russian professional league. He also spent part of the 2012-13 season with Belye Medvedi Chelyabinsk Jr. team in the Russian junior league.
Nesterov has competed internationally for Russia on numerous occasions. Most notably, he has won both a Silver and Bronze medal at the World Junior Championships. He won a Silver in 2012, where he played in seven games and recorded two goals along with five points. He then won a Bronze medal in 2013, again playing in seven games and recording four points