Nikita Nesterov
Image: NHL

Nikita Nesterov


Chelyabinsk Russia

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Eligible for draft:









5th round (148th overall), 2011


185 lbs.

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2008-09: Nikita Nesterov played in the Traktor Chelyabinsk youth program.

2009-10: Nesterov played for the Traktor Chelyabinsk club and made his debut with Belie Medvedi Chelyabinsk in the MHL (Russian U22 league) as a 16-year-old. He scored 5 goals with 2 assists and had 14 penalty minutes in 13 games (including playoffs). Nesterov skated in all seven games for fourth-place Russia at the 2010 U18 World Junior Championship and scored 2 goals with 29 penalty minutes. Nesterov was selected by Traktor Chelyabinsk in the first round (22nd overall) of the 2010 KHL Draft and was selected by the Tri-City Americans (WHL) in the first round (16th overall) of the CHL Import Draft.

2010-11: Nesterov skated in 46 games for Belie Medvedi Chelyabinsk in the MHL. He scored 5 goals with 14 assists and had 72 penalty minutes. He played for Russia in both the 2010  U19 World Junior A Challenge and 2011 U18 World Junior Championship. Nesterov had 1 goal with 6 penalty minutes in four U19 games and scored 2 goals with 2 assists and was plus-11 with 29 penalty minutes in seven games for the bronze-medal winning U18 squad. He was ranked 32nd amongst European skaters in Central Scouting’s final rankings and was selected in the fifth round (148th overall) by Tampa Bay in the 2011 NHL Draft.

2011-12: Nesterov skated in 10 KHL games for Traktor Chelyabinsk and was the third-leading scorer among MHL defensemen playing for Chelyabinsk’s junior team, Belie Medvedi. He represented Russia at the 2012 U20 World Junior Championship. Nesterov had 1 assist and was plus-eight with 4 penalty minutes during the regular season with Traktor. He saw limited ice time in three playoff games – with no points or penalty minutes. He had 11 goals with 20 assists in 41 MHL games, finishing just three points off the league-high despite playing a dozen fewer games. In seven games at the WJC he scored 2 goals with 3 assists and was plus-seven with 6 penalty minutes as Russia defeated Finland to win the bronze medal.

2012-13: Nesterov played in 35 KHL games as a 19-year-old and played for the club’s MHL junior team, Belle Medvedi. He was an assistant captain for Russia at the 2013 World Junior Championship in Ufa. He was +6 with no points and 14 penalty minutes skating for Traktor Chelyabinsk. Traktor finished second in the Kharlamov Division and reached the KHL Finals against Dynamo Moscow. Nesterov had 4 assists and was -3 with 6 penalty minutes in 19 playoff games. He played six games with Belle Medvedi, including four playoff games, and scored 2 goals with 2 assists; finishing -4 with 2 penalty minutes. In seven games at the WJC he had 4 assists and was +1 with 2 penalty minutes. Russia defeated Canada in overtime in the bronze medal game. Nesterov signed a three-year, entry-level contract with Tampa Bay in April of 2013.

2013-14: Nesterov skated in 54 games for Tampa Bay AHL affiliate Syracuse in his first pro season in North America. He was a healthy scratch at times early in the year and skated in one game in April after suffering an upper body injury. Nesterov scored 4 goals with 12 assists and was -2 with 39 penalty minutes. The Crunch finished fifth in the East Division, missing the AHL playoffs.

2014-15: Nesterov made his NHL debut with the Lightning in a December 31st game against Buffalo after opening the year with AHL affiliate Syracuse. A depth defenseman and a healthy scratch at times in his first NHL season, he scored 2 goals with 5 assists and was +6 with 16 penalty minutes, averaging 16 minutes of ice time, in 27 regular season games. Nesterov scored 3 goals with 11 assists and was +4 with 26 penalty minutes in 32 regular season games with Syracuse. He was with Tampa Bay during the Crunch’s three-game playoff series with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. 

Talent Analysis

Nesterov is a rough-and-tumble skating defenseman who plays with a high activity level — both forcing turnovers from the opposition with his aggressiveness but also allowing scoring chances against at times with his improvisational style.


Nesterov made his NHL debut with Tampa Bay at the end of December after opening the 2014-15 season with Lightning AHL affiliate Syracuse. He has steadily earned the trust of Tampa Bay head coach Jon Cooper and the coaching staff and was seeing ice time during the 2015 NHL playoffs. Long-term Nesterov has the skating ability and exuberance to see a more consistent role at the NHL level. His positional game should improve with experience and is a key to him reaching his potential.

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