It’s PITB’s annual Every Goal series. This year will be really easy.
When Mike Gillis re-signed Tom Sestito on a one-way contract for two years last summer, it was met with a collective, “Really?” from the Canucks fanbase. Even the most ardent fan of enforcers could tell you that those numbers should have been reversed: a two-way contract for one year.
The previous season, Sestito barely saw the ice after getting claimed off waivers and was in and out of the press box. It wasn’t an expensive contract at $750,000 per season, but it was a baffling one. Enforcers like Sestito are easy to find in free agency or on the waiver wire, so committing to two years to a 25-year-old enforcer that had yet to even play a full season in the NHL made zero sense. It seemed like a continuation of the Bruins-obsession that marred Gillis’s work post-2011, focussing on finding a Shawn Thornton rather than a David Krejci.
Of course, no one expected Sestito to score as many goals as Alex Burrows during the 2013-14 season, even spending some time in the Canucks’ top six and on the first-unit powerplay. He even matched the goal total of last summer’s biggest name in free agency, David Clarkson, who got a 7-year deal worth $5.25 million per year. That’s an incredible value for $750,000! Good thing they locked him down for two years!
Except that it was a near-historically unlucky season for Burrows, while Sestito had the highest shooting percentage on the Canucks, to the point that he was actually incredibly fortunate to even score 5 goals. Sestito had a grand total of 31 shots on goal in the 77 games he played. Shawn Matthias played just 18 games for the Canucks and had more shots — 39 — than Sestito.
Now, with Jim Benning acquiring the far more useful fourth-liner Derek Dorsett via trade and younger players pushing their way up the depth chart, it’s unclear if Sestito will even have a spot on the roster for the second year of his contract. That may be for the best, as every single player on the Canucks has better possession statistics without Sestito than they do with him.
I have no explanation for why Sestito played in all but 5 games last season, aside from just shrugging my shoulders and saying “Tortorella,” but he did score five goals, which is five more than you or I will ever score in the NHL.
Considering Sestito is 6’5″ and 228 lbs, you would think that it would be pretty dang difficult to lose track of him, but the Ducks manage that difficult task, leaving Sestito wide open at the back door. Brad Richardson finds him with a pretty nice pass and Sestito does very well to one-time the puck considering the pass was in his skates.
Of course, he doesn’t score that goal if the Ducks’ defenceman doesn’t blow his coverage trying to step up on Zack Kassian, despite Kassian standing completely still. Who’s the defenceman that screws things up that badly, allowing Sestito that much time and space? Luca Sbisa. Oh. Oh dear.
Sestito is pretty good at screening goaltenders, thanks to his big-ness and opaque-ness, so it’s no surprise that when the Canucks do manage to gain the offensive zone and set up with him on the ice, he heads straight for the front of the net.
Zac Dalpe makes a nice move to drop the puck for Ryan Kesler, but the puck gets poked away. Fortunately, it winds up on Jason Garrison’s stick, which Garrison happens to be holding at the time. He throws the puck towards the net and Sestito tips it off the post and in. Sestito then does a massive fist pump by himself, while everyone else goes and congratulates Garrison for the goal, because they can’t even imagine Sestito scoring. Poor guy.
Apart from his lonely fist-pump (which sounds awfully dirty, I apologize), Sestito generally excels at goal celebrations, to the point that it’s a shame he doesn’t get to do them more often. He was delivering gold right from his first goal as a Canuck, poking fun at a Nail Yakupov goal celebration from earlier in the game.
Here, against his former team, Sestito celebrates by grabbing the orca logo on the front of his jersey, making his allegiance clear. It’s a nice sentiment after a pretty nice goal, kicking a Dan Hamhuis rebound from his skate to his stick before sliding the puck under Steve Mason’s out-stretched arm.
This was a wacky game (that also led to one of my favourite IWTGs from last season), as Sestito was inexplicably promoted to the second line with Ryan Kesler and Zack Kassian, which was weird enough. But then, when the first powerplay unit skated onto the ice, there was Sestito yet again. It seemed like a recipe for disaster, but the Canucks powerplay had been struggling all season, so why not try it?
Oddly enough, it worked: Ryan Kesler scored on the Canucks’ first powerplay with Sestito screening in front, then Sestito himself got a goal, tipping in a Henrik Sedin slap shot. It’s a gorgeous tip, too, sending the puck perfectly into the top corner.
Regrettably, Sestito’s powerplay goal in early January didn’t lead to him becoming a powerplay specialist and he didn’t score again until the end of the month. It was also his last goal of the season, but at least it was a nice goal.
Sestito gets things started by poking the puck away from Kris Versteeg, then chipping the puck in front to Richardson for a scoring chance. Kassian collects the resulting rebound and circles the net, dropping the puck off for Ryan Stanton in the corner. Sestito, smartly, has dropped off into the slot, readying himself for the one-timer, and Stanton sets him up perfectly.
Unfortunately, giving up a goal to Sestito seemed to wake up the Blackhawks, who proceeded to score five straight for a 5-2 win. Do the Canucks really want a guy who doesn’t have enough hockey sense to avoid giving his team a two-goal lead, the worst lead in hockey?Tags: Every Goal, Tom Sestito