Andrej Nestrasil: 2016-17 Carolina Hurricanes report card

Andrej Nestrasil: 2016-17 Carolina Hurricanes report card

For anyone catching up, a menu of previous player (and also coaching and GM) report cards can be found at the bottom of the article. Andrej Nestrasil’s starting point for the 2016-17 season After being claimed off waivers from the Detroit Red Wings early in the 2014-15 season and holding at the NHL level for the rest of the season, Nestrasil entered the 2015-16 in a cluster of players fighting for 3-4 depth slots among the Hurricanes’ forward ranks. Early in the 2015=16 season, he bounced around and in and out of the lineup never really sticking. But an early December shake up that saw three AHL call ups and new lines found Andrej Nestrasil paired with Jordan Staal and Joakim Nordstrom. The line clicked defensively right out of the gate. Playing a brand of hockey built on puck possession, cycling, strong loose puck retrieval and two-way play as a last resort, the line quickly became Coach Bill Peters’ go-to line for checking the opponents’ best scorers on home ice. The line was the team’s best during a winter surge from early December through late February when Nestrasil was injured. An awkward fall into the boards saw Nestrasil sidelined for the remainder of the season and well into the offseason with a serious back injury. His scoring production in 2015-16 was not earth-shattering at 23 points in 55 games, but he had seized a role in the top half of the roster. But he also entered the summer with uncertainty around his health and ability to be ready for the start of the 2016-17 season.   Andrej Nestrasil’s 2016-17...
Andrej Nestrasil and the power of chemistry

Andrej Nestrasil and the power of chemistry

I am in the middle of a series that looks at specific players and combinations. Yesterday I wrote that Jaccob Slavin might have the highest ceiling of all of the Canes young defenders (yes, including Justin Faulk) and also about Jeff Skinner and Phil Di Giuseppe as a pair. Today looks at Andrej Nestrasil, the complementary skill sets that made Nestrasil/JStaal/Nordstrom go and that line now in Nestrasil’s absence. Arguably, the single biggest driving force behind the Canes reversal of fortune and surge from December through February was the play of Jordan Staal and his line. In the beginning, the trio was a very good checking line capable of holding other teams’ best lines in check and kicking in an occasional goal. By the end, they were still doing the defense thing but were also scoring more like a top line than a checking line. When the group was put together it had the look of a checking line that could hold its own without the puck but was unlikely to score much. Jordan Staal’s greatest strength has always been the defensive side of the puck, and neither Andrej Nestrasil or Joakim Nordstrom entered as a player that would be described as an offensive catalyst or play maker. But the line grew to become much greater than the sum of its parts. Complementary skill sets and a repeatable formula for playing with the puck in the offensive zone led to puck possession and ultimately figuring out how to convert that to more scoring.   Formula for success The formula for the line’s success is pretty simple: 1) All 3...