Watch every goal Tom Sestito scored last season

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.

1 | November 10 vs Anaheim Ducks

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.

2 | December 1 vs Carolina Hurricanes

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.

3 | December 30 vs Philadelphia Flyers

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.

4 | January 5 vs Anaheim Ducks

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.

5 | January 29 vs Chicago Blackhawks

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?

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  1. iain
    July 24, 2014

    I like Tom Sestito as a person. He seems like a good guy and he is sure committed to his teammates and to the Canucks.

    And why wouldn’t he be? They gave him CEO money (out in the real world, not the looking-glass world of pro sports) to do a caretaker’s job. Ka-ching!

    I don’t however like him as a NHL player, at least on the Canucks’ roster, and I have to hope that Dorsett usurps him in the depth chart, and maybe we can find a trade partner for him. Maybe Calgary? Burkie values toughness and ‘stand up for your buddies’ above all else, so maybe a Sestito for Bennett or Monahan deal could be done….. *eyes go all dreamy swoony the mere thought*

    Sorry, Tom. Nice guy and all, but there are better options for the 4th line.

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  2. arjay
    July 24, 2014

    i agree, Iain….BUT…..on this year`s roster who is going to step up and handle the rough stuff in the ultra heavy Western Conference …….plus he is on a one way contract thru this year….so (unless an Eastern Conference team takes him on,) he`s here and will fill the grit role just fine….I believe he lead the NHL in fights last year and…once again….who else is on this year`s team to fill that role….without his deterrent the `hands team will`be mince meat by Christmas.

    Actually curious that JB hasn`t brought in a couple more scrappers (sorry, Dorsett is a gamer but catches more than he throws)….JB did promise a meat and potatoes approach this year…so far as grit goes on this team all I see is `Veggy lite`

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    • Daniel Wagner
      July 24, 2014

      Who’s going to handle the rough stuff? Depends on what rough stuff you mean.

      If you mean fighting, then who is Sestito going to fight? Closest thing to an enforcer on the Kings is Kyle Clifford, who’s 6’2″. The Ducks have the 6’4″ Patrick Maroon, but he also scored 29 points in 62 games. The Blackhawks have Brandon Bollig, again 6’2″. Antoine Roussel led the Stars in fights last season and he’s 6’0″. Top fighter on the Blues? Ryan Reaves, 6’1″.

      These are going to be some of the top teams in the West next season. How much do you think they’re worried about not having a 6’5″, 228 lb enforcer on their roster?

      As for who’s going to handle the rough stuff, the Canucks have Zack Kassian and Derek Dorsett, along with young guys likely to get call-ups sometime this season like Darren Archibald and Brandon DeFazio. As for Dorsett not winning fights, I couldn’t care less about that at this point. I’m far more concerned about the Canucks winning games than I am about them winning fights. As Bieksa said once about goons, “If a 6-foot-8 guy who can’t skate asks to fight, you say no, then skate around him and score a goal.”

      Having a fighter on the roster isn’t a deterrent. It’s just not. It’s been proven time and time again by guys continuing to take cheap shots on star players despite an enforcer sitting on the bench at the time. Having Sestito didn’t prevent Martin Hanzal from injuring Henrik Sedin, Mike Santorelli, and David Booth with cross-checks last season.

      “Meat and potatoes” or gritty hockey or whatever you want to call it does not necessitate having a goon on the roster. Benning seems to like guys that can forecheck, receive and deliver a hit, and take and deliver punishment in front of the net. That’s meat and potatoes. That’s grit. That’s got nothing to do with fighting.

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      • arjay
        July 24, 2014

        i agree with you Daniel and perhaps it would have been better for me to use the deterrent factor and his inspirational value to his team as the focus. (vs the `fighter`)

        I think back to a january game when J Nolan tried to elbow Henrik in the head from behind….TS stepped up and Nolan turtled…TS gets 27 minutes ……BUT the TEAM went on to battle LA in a good game and were unlucky not to get a better result than a 1-0 loss. TS inspired his team by showing he was there to deter the cheap stuff.

        The team clearly feeds off his presence—even if he is only given limited ice-time.

        I feel TS , who has proven he has some good hands (45 goals in the OHL), could post 10 goals if given more ice time which would be very acceptable for a 4th liner. As the focus this coming year has been stated to create more balance of ice-time thru the 4 lines…….and as he is on a one way contract… I believe he will get his chance.

        No argument that he is slow of foot but TS also can be used as a “screener` on the PP and, as the vids in this column show, he is moderately talented around the net.

        it is not unthinkable that TS (whose contract is expiring) might do well enough this year (given the ice time) to either get a new short term contract or get one elsewhere.

        As a role player, TS will help more than hurt this years`Canucks, imo.

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        • Daniel Wagner
          July 24, 2014

          Okay, so you say the team fed off Sestito in that 1-0 loss to the Kings. It was a “moral victory” as everyone kept saying at the time. Did the team feed off his presence in the subsequent 9-1 loss to the Ducks? How much did that “inspiration” mean to the team over the course of the season? It added up to approximately jack squat. Even in the one game where everyone seems to agree that he inspired the team, they still lost 1-0.

          How much inspiration would Sestito need to provide to overcome the fact that the Canucks were out-shot 268 to 196 when he was on the ice? How much would his teammates need to feed off his presence to make up for all the goals he costs them with his lack of footspeed and skill?

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          • akidd
            July 25, 2014

            geez, daniel, it seems like you’ve thought about this sestito topic a fair amount. now with booth gone and a lack of a contentious issue, i could try to get into the pro-tom boat but…na.

            now more than ever this team needs to roll four strong lines. there’s no room for a throw-away line.

            i think sestito did his job pretty decently last year, and besides hanzus, last year there kinda seemed to be less liberties being taken against the canucks. there are still some scrappy teams out there, sestito has decent hands, seems to care about winning but…ya, no room really. every line is going to have to be able to skate and shoot as i see it.

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    • iain
      July 24, 2014

      i’d far rather have a roster spot taken up by someone who can skate, stickhandle, shoot and check, than reserve a spot for someone whose main job is to throw haymakers at other guys whose job is to throw haymakers.

      the western conference is full of tough hockey players, not fighters.

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  3. Jake
    July 24, 2014

    I have to admit I was impressed by Sestito on the power play. I know he was only there because someone was getting sent a message, but he looked pretty damn good.

    Aside from doing an excellent Byfuglien impression in front of the net, he’s actually got great instincts when it comes to positioning himself vs a goaltender to catch those rebounds, passes, and tips. And he’s got the hands to make those short-range chances into goals.

    As anyone who plays video games can tell you, snipers are good for long range, but when you’re 3 feet away, a big ol’ shotgun is the right tool for the job.

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  4. beavis
    July 25, 2014

    A bargain for a 16% shooter that can fight!

    Put him with the twins!

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