Canucks Army Player Previews: Tom Sestito

March 1st,
2013 – a landmark date in Vancouver Canucks
history. That was the fateful day on which the Canucks claimed Tom Sestito off of the waiver
wire, ushering in the glorious era of #TopSixtito and moral victories for everyone!  

Well, not quite. The actual story goes like this:

With too
many men on their roster, the Canucks were forced to put Aaron Volpatti on waivers in
hopes of sending him to the Chicago Wolves. Unfortunately for the Canucks, the
Washington Capitals claimed the B.C.-born grinder, and to make matters worse, only a few short hours after Volpatti was put on waivers, Canucks brass was informed that Ryan Kesler was
injured and Vancouver did not need to waive anyone.  To make up for the lost man, Vancouver claimed whomever they could on waivers the next day in a reactionary move, and that lucky man was none
other than Tom Sestito.

Many fans,
except those who love face-punchers, were not too happy with this turn of events,
especially considering how it all unfolded.  Further to
their disliking, Sestito was re-signed that summer to a two-year, one-way, $1.5M contract
by Mike Gillis.  Last season, after a
total of 34 NHL games played over his previous six, Tom Sestito played his first full
season in the NHL, leading the entire league in fighting majors and PIMs.

Read past the jump to see how Sestito fared in his first real NHL season. Spoilers: it wasn’t good.

2013-2014
Performance


Sestito1

Sestito2

Sestito3

In his
first full season in the NHL, playing a total of 77 games, Sestito had a career high
of 9 points with 5 goals and 4 assists. 
He also earned the honour of leading the league in penalty minutes with
213, edging out fellow face-puncher Chis Neil by just two PIMs.  He also earned the title of “The Worst Person in
the Sports World” bestowed upon him by Keith Olbermann after he earned 27 PIM
in 1 second of play against the L.A. Kings.

I honestly
have a hard time trying to find anything positive to say about Tom
Sestito.  He’s the worst player on the
Canucks in just about every metric we track.  This is especially baffling since the Canucks, under Mike Gillis, had always been
looking for new ways to find a competitive advantage, so it makes you wonder
why they would ice someone as bad as Sestito with such regularity and overpay
him to do so.

From his
statistics above we see that he has scored a career high in points and
goals, but this is most likely due to appearing in a career-high number of NHL games.  He saw almost
no special teams time (a total of 8 minutes on the power play) and was never
used on the penalty kill.  One might be
quick to point out his team-high shooting percentage of 13.79%, but it’s unlikely that Sestito can sustain a shooting percentage of a high-end sniper.  Given every season
for him has been a small sample size though, it’s difficult to know where his shooting talent truly
lies.  I would make the educated guess
that’s it’s much lower than the league average of ~9%, however.

It’s harder
to analyze a 4th liner’s possession numbers with such limited data,
and the fact that Sestito only had a 25% OZ start rate also muddles what his “true-talent” deployment neutral possession skill really is.  But, from above, we can still clearly see that every
teammate was far, far better without Sestito than with him – definitely not a positive
sign.  League wide, he was at the very bottom of nearly every possession statistic.

Those who
are in favour of players such as Sestito will cite it’s the other things on the
ice that he does so well, but this does not appear to be true either.  Sestito was 4th on Vancouver hits, but the fact that he was chasing the play so much surely plays a large part in this.  He’s not even a good of a fighter either, with his Punch
Corsi (or “Kordic”) well below 50%, and having only won 7 of 19 fights in 2013-2014 accordingto NEW NATION NETWORK PARTNER HockeyFights.com.

2014-2015
Outlook

The
2014-2015 season can really only end in one of two ways for Sestito, and right
now it’s not clear which is most likely to happen.  Currently, the Canucks have to cut just one more player to get their roster to 23, and Sestito happen to be one of those
guys who is still with the big club. 
Whether he is cut or not it is up to Jim Benning & Co. who were talking up the need for a solid 4th line all summer.  If it were up to us, Sestito would be in
Utica.

If Sestito
is sent on the Utica path, he would head back home where Comets fans will
absolutely love their huge local boy who hits, fights and scores once in a
while. He will be out of harm’s way for the Canucks and will open up a roster
spot for one of the young players that the Canucks were touting all summer
about giving the chance to play.  This is
something the fans want to see: more of the Kid Line and less of Top Sixtito.

Realistically,
my gut feeling points me toward believing that we will see more of Sestito
in Vancouver this year, where he would only continue to harm
the Canucks while he’s on the ice (this also seems probable thanks to Nicklas Jensen’s demotion this morning).  It’s likely
he would play with Derek Dorsett this year on the 4th line, who might help bring up Sestito’s possession and GoalsFor% numbers, but like his teammates in
2013-2014  I would bet that Dorsett will perform better without Sestito on the ice.

Offensively,
it is unlikely that the Canucks get 5 goals from him again, though it may be possible too
depending how his puck luck is this season. 
Additional changes in his deployment from Willie Desjardins could
possibly increase his OZ start rate, which could also help him score more. 

At the end
of the season, Sestito will be looking for a new contract. Whether Jim Benning decides to re-sign him will be interesting to see.  4th
line players are easy to acquire, especially ones that are cheaper and perform
better than Sestito has. In fact, it’s entirely possible that Vancouver has better 4th line options in Utica right now, including Mike Zalewski, Dustin Jeffery, Darren Archibald, or Brandon DeFazio. There is value
in having face-punchers that can do more than punch faces, but unfortunately
Sestito is not one of those players.

  • yugret

    Previews? Let’s be honest here shall we? the Canucks and you all know it, have the team this year that would lucky to make the play offs.

    That’s what you get for hiring someone like Gillis. Lesson learned? Nope. The lessons are gonna be coming fast and furious this season.

  • yugret

    To be fair, he saw no time on the penalty kill because he was usually the one CAUSING the Canucks to go on the penalty kill.

    Oh wait, that isn’t a redeeming fact at all.

    Nope, nothing helpful to say for him here. I’m disappointed he wasn’t waived today but I’m not remotely surprised. I can only hope that the kids in Utica force the Canucks hand on this one by being too awesome to keep them down.

  • Brent

    Ugh, the numbers fit with the eye test. There really are no redeeming qualities of Tom Sestito. The only possible explanation for him still being here is that someone in the Canucks organization likes ultra right wing sub-optimal “hockey” players with Italian heritage.

    The only thing I could see him being somewhat useful at is standing in front of the net on the power play, mainly because he is big. But if the puck ever leaves the zone they will have to wait a long time to bring it back in because he is a slow skater.

  • I can understand having an enforcer. Because hell, the regular season is a long slog, and fights are entertaining. So even if you don’t particularly believe they have a deterrent value, pro sports IS entertainment.

    And it sure is easier and cheaper to find a fighter than a goal scorer on the open market.

    But 7/19 in fights last year? Yeah, thats the fisticuffs equivalent to signing David Booth to score goals on your top line. He might look the part, but he can’t produce at an NHL level.

    Even if you are a proponent of enforcers sending a message or being a deterrent… I don’t think a 36% victory rate is all that intimidating to the other team’s enforcer. Even if Sestito could play a regular 10 minutes a night without being a liability… which he can’t.

  • It’s plain and simple. When the Canucks should have used players like Sestito to beat down the Bruins during the finals they had none. Now the Canucks have Sestito and can’t beat the Bruins in goals if they even if they tried.

    The Canucks are like hipsters, always trying to swim across a river when a bridge is right there in full view.

    • Andy

      Well, there was that December game where we beat them 6-2…

      As fun as it is to blame everything on Tom Sestito, he’s only one player.
      It’s about usage – AV & JT thought Weise was a fighting plug; and then he went to Montreal.

      Willie D has talked publicly about how he doesn’t want Tom fighting needlessly. Hopefully it’s sinking in and he can start remembering how to play hockey.

      • yugret

        Seems like the Canucks don’t even know when to fight, let alone score last year.

        Has Alex Burrows woken up from his hibernation yet? It took him almost the entire year to score a couple. What a professional.

  • I can`t believe,how commentators on The Province praise the play of Sestito. good grief!! they must be blind!!.Its a total mystery to me why this guy wasn`t sent down to Utica..It makes Benning look like an idiot.. But wait!! maybe he`s going to be working in one of the concessions..

    • Nah, it makes sense.

      The reports see the players in person every day, both at home and on the road.

      And by all accounts, Sestito is a nice guy. Can’t play at an NHL level, but still a good guy.

      Its human nature that the reporters generally don’t want to say bad things about him, or other players that aren’t asshats, unless it is really warranted.

      And it would also be beating a dead horse to call out his liabilities every single freaking game over the 82 game season.

  • I’ll say one thing in defence of Sestito:

    To my eyes, when he stopped just aimlessly skating around the ice looking for someone to punch and actually *tried* to play hockey, he wasn’t that bad. He wasn’t great, but he was passable as a 4th-liner. Problem was, he spent 80% of his time just ignoring the puck and trying to find a fighting partner.

    Things aren’t looking up this year either after the goon-fest in Edmonton.

  • I know this is a heretical thing to say on Canucks Army, but I still enjoy a good NHL fight – even the occasional staged one. And in the midst of a long 82 game season, who can honestly say they don’t enjoy a game or two a season turning into a complete donnybrook?

    I will, however, concur that its even more fun when the guy on your team wins the fight.

    Pro sports can’t be ALL math. We should be able to squeeze a little Id-massaging enjoyment out of the experience too.

  • yugret

    I watched Tom Sestito for the last few years. I watched him when he was in the “A” with Syracuse. I had season tickets there, now have them in Utica. He is a big guy, but by no means a great fighter. Always willing, and has improved a lot, but not great. Tough team in Syracuse when I was going there… In front of the net, a lot of nice goals on deflections. Good hands. Put him there on the PP and let him work. Might surprise some, for sure.