Tim Sestito played his junior hockey with the OHL Plymouth Whalers. Undrafted at 17, he’s been somewhat of a hot free agent commodity since finishing his junior career. In 2004-05, he had 32 points in 67 games for the Whalers, before turning pro with the AHL Bridgeport Sound Tigers, where he had three points in nine games.
He was invited to Edmonton Oilers rookie camp, then main camp this fall. It was clear that the Oilers were impressed with the rookie and would have signed him to an AHL league deal had they had a team of their own this year. Instead, they sent him to Hamilton Bulldogs camp and arranged for him to play with ECHL affiliate Greenville Grrrowl. It’s expected Edmonton will sign him next summer.
“Tim Sestito is not our property but hopefully he will be our property because he’s been really good for (Greenville),” an Oiler source told Hockey’s Future recently. “We knew he would play there and we’re happy he’s played that well.”
The 6’0 195 lb defensive center has 18 points in 33 games and is +6, which is about average on the team.
Hockey’s Future spoke to Sestito following the Grrrowl’s 4-1 road victory over the Gwinnett Gladiators on Friday night. He talked about his season, how to play defense, and his younger brother, Tom Sestito.
HF: How has your season gone for you so far?
TS: Well it started off a little slow, I think. I came off a couple camps in Edmonton and Hamilton. It was just a little adjustment getting used to new guys and stuff like that. But lately, the last 15-20 games has gone pretty well.
HF: You’re scoring at a higher rate than in junior, which is very unusual. Do you have any explanation for it?
TS: (Laughing) I don’t know, I’m not going to really question it to be honest. And actually, I’m playing with some really good guys. (Tyler) Mosienko, he’s really fun to play with, and (Adam) Nightingale. I’ve been lucky to the put the puck in when I’ve had a chance to.
HF: So you don’t think you’re doing anything different?
TS: No, I think the bounces are just coming my way. Hard work pays off.
HF: Do you think maybe your game is more suited to the pros in some way?
TS: I’d like to think so. I like just to keep it simple. Focus on defense and then if we work hard, keep it low and cycle, I think that’s where my game is.
HF: Can you talk about your role on the team, what you bring?
TS: I think mainly I’m out there to get things going with a hit or a forecheck and specifically to keep the puck out of our net. I think my defensive part of the game is getting better and if I can chip in with some points, that’s always a plus.
HF: Since you’re known as a defensive specialist, what would you tell a young guy is the key to defense?
TS: I think being good defensively takes a lot of hard work. It’s easy to take shifts off and float around, but with defensive hockey, you’re always trying to beat guys back to your zone, you’re always looking to pick guys up and get pucks out on the walls. It’s a dirty job, but that’s the key to a lot of games is getting it out.
HF: (Fellow Grrrowl) Mike Knight and you played together at Plymouth then last year?
TS: Yeah, a year and a half we played together, we got him at the deadline. It was fun having someone you knew coming to camp.
HF: Was he the only guy you knew on this team before you came?
TS: I knew Brock (Radunske) from before in Edmonton, and I knew a couple other guys just from playing against them or growing up. But Mike was the only guy I had really played with.
HF: How did you end up in Bridgeport at the end of last season?
TS: That’s a good question. We had a rough end to our junior season, got swept, and I was actually going to come here, but at the last minute my agent called me and said there was an opportunity in Bridgeport. I think they were missing a lot of guys, a lot of guys were hurt. I got a chance to go up there and play nine games, which was a blast.
HF: You have a brother (Tom) still in Plymouth, how is he doing?
TS: He’s actually doing really well. I think he only had like four points last year, he’s already got eight or 10 goals, and is one of the top penalty leaders in the league. So he’s improved a lot. He’s a big guy.
HF: He’s draft eligible this year, are you guys hearing good things?
TS: Yep, from what I’ve heard, I’ve only heard good things so far. His coach has been telling him he’s been the most improved player, not only on the team but maybe league-wide. So things look good for him.
HF: It sounds like his game might be a little different than yours.
TS: Yeah, he’s 6’4 and there’s a big difference in height. He drops the gloves but I think he gets a bad rep for being just fighter because he probably has better hands than me to be honest. I’m a little faster, but he grinds it out.
HF: You mentioned you’re a little faster, I was going to ask since he got the height, what did you get, the brains or the looks?
TS: I think I got both ends on that one (laughing), but don’t tell him that.
HF: What was it like playing with him for a year in Plymouth?
TS: It was kind of weird at first because I was there for four years and he was a rookie, so I didn’t want anybody to think I was giving him too much leeway. I was pretty hard on him, but it was a blast. I hadn’t seen him [play] for three years because our hockey seasons [overlapped], but I thought it was a great time to play with him and watch him progress as a player.
Guy Flaming contributed to this article. Copyright 2006 Hockey’s Future. Do not reprint or otherwise duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.