Dispatches from the Waiver Wire: Andrej Nestrasil

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Photo Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn – USA TODAY Sports

The Carolina Hurricanes are among the league’s leaders in waiver wire activity. They’ve claimed three players already this season, including Ty Rattie most recently. Eventually, though, something has to give. In this case, that something is Andrej Nestrasil’s spot with the club.

Now that the Canucks have a claim to their credit in 2017, one can imagine a shifting landscape where they invest more in this asset free acquisition space. Especially if reports that they had interest in Matt Nieto when the former San Jose Sharks forward hit waivers are valid.

With that, let’s dive into Nestrasil’s bona fides and see if that’s an option worth exploring.

To start, I find it wholly surprising that the Hurricanes would divest themselves of Nestrasil at this intersection. If my read on the Hurricanes’ website is accurate, they’ve enough roster space to accommodate him. At least for the time being. Eddie Lack will eventually regain health and lose injured reserve status, at which point Carolina’s at the over. Until then, they seem fine.

It’s doubly interesting, because a team so heavily invested in analytics as the Hurricanes are usually don’t part with a player that positively impacts shot attempt share at even strength while producing at the third highest rate by points per sixty. If Nestrasil’s having a poor season, it’s not translating on paper.

Since joining the Hurricanes in advance of the 2014-15 season, Nestrasil’s prorated production levels out to roughly 33 points per 82 game season, too. His production is adequate for a cost-controlled middle six forward through virtually any lens. 

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For whatever reason, though, he’s fallen out of favour and found himself adrift and available to whoever deems his addition a worthwhile venture.

The Canucks should be one such team. And whether one can reasonably quibble with Nestrasil’s ceiling and upside based on his being a 25-year-old fringe NHL’er much of his career, the fact remains he’s a significant upgrade on much of what the Canucks ice on a night-to-night basis.

This fact should be fresh in Canucks fans minds, given Jayson Megna played 15:30 in Saturday’s loss to the Calgary Flames; not terribly far behind was Michael Chaput with 9:46. 

Player Corsi For Percentage Expected Goals For Percentage Points per Sixty
Andrej Nestrasil 51.61% 48.85% 1.76
Jack Skille 48.75% 43.07% 1.38
Michael Chaput 47.19% 44.28% 0.81
Jayson Megna 44.54% 44.74% 0.71

Making an addition of this sort requires likely more roster juggling than the Canucks are wont to take on at this exact moment. They still have to sort out their defence, so that they can ice an entire unit in time for tomorrow’s game with Nashville. Part of that involves deciding whether to paper Brendan Gaunce to the Utica Comets or placing one of Chris Tanev or Ben Hutton on IR.

If they want to bring Nestrasil into the fold — and really, they should — they’d have to send one of Chaput, Megna or Skille down as well. I’m not convinced there’s a real appetite for such a decision on Pat Quinn Way, especially if we take the coaches assessment of those players into consideration — and we have every reason to do just that

Still, I fancy Nestrasil’s addition as worthwhile for a club trying to chart an unlikely path to the post-season. He represents value added to a roster that could clearly use just that, especially on the peripheries of their roster.

Nestrasil has one year left on his contract, valued at $912,500. At the expiration of that contract, Nestrasil will hit restricted free agency. If it doesn’t work out, the Canucks can easily cut ties. If they reach that moment in-season, they can just as easily bury Nestrasil’s contract in the AHL with little salary cap recourse — though that’s an unpalatable option, to be sure.

  • apr

    One of the reasons why WD has kept Chaput, Skille, and Megna is they are accustomed to their “system”. That’s the main reason why I WD has been so hesitant to put Rodin in yet as he doesn’t quite trust him (and Rodin is not in game shape). Given that the Nucks just picked up Boucher, I would be surprised if they picked someone up from the waiver unless he has a proven record for being a starter like Nieto.

  • SJ

    I like Nestrasil, always thought he was a solid, reliable player. I just don’t see it, though. The timing sucks for the Canucks, who are shuffling the deck at the moment to get Pedan to Nashville, not to mention the “unplayable” and waiver eligible Rodin and Boucher clogging up the active roster.

    • Dirty30

      Rodin and WD both said Rodin’s knee is sore — he can be waived for injury or conditioning, and maybe leave him in Utica to get into game shape.

      They can also waive Megan or even Skille even if they supposedly know the system … they certainly aren’t doing much in it to keep a roster spot.

  • elvis15

    We’ve been making do for some time at the expense of Utica with our call ups, and I think it’s time we sent them back some help. Chaput has been helpful, so Megna is the first choice for me to send back. He’d have to clear waivers, but I don’t think anyone will be in a rush to claim him at this point.

    If we have to send two, we could look at Chaput or Skille, but I’d think Gaunce would be the next choice (as much as I’ve been a supporter of him being on the roster). If Dorsett wasn’t hurt I’d say Skille, and maybe Chaput can help Utica more, but Gaunce being waiver exempt helps him so we don’t lose two players just in case teams make claims.

    It could be moot though, as there are 10 teams ahead of us on the waiver order and he could well be claimed by the time we get the option.

  • Chris the Curmudgeon

    I appreciate the hustle that Megna and Chaput both bring, but neither is a full time NHL talent. Nestrasil is (so was Nieto, had the chance come up). Given the opportunity to fill their spots with better players without any risk, this should be a no brainer. I know some of your readers are getting sick of the suggestion that the Canucks place a claim on every waived player, but I think it is a valid point to make every time a player is waived who is better than someone on our roster. Now is one of those times.

    • I am Ted

      It’s fine to report on names that come across the waivers. It is a touch annoying when the CA kids push to add players and want the Canucks to pick them up. I hate to break it to you but analytics is ONE tool used to assess a player.

      Now, I would be fine with a flyer on these types of guys but they’re not really going to make or break a team. I also don’t know if Nestrasil adds much over what we have despite the fancy stats. There are way too many variables.

      If the Canucks were to add Nes, the first guy I’d send to Utica would be Gaunce. That guy doesn’t do much at this point. Despite playing limited minutes, you don’t often see him finish checks, skate hard, create offence…you just don’t notice him much. I think Chaput is more noticeable and is doing OK in line 4.

      • Chris the Curmudgeon

        OK, but can you name a tool that doesn’t view Nestrasil as a far superior asset to Megna? And part of the point here is that you don’t need to know a priori if the guy is going to help: he costs nothing in return, is making a very reasonable salary and term, and if he doesn’t work out he can be waived in return. The only risk in picking him up is that someone else has to make a space for him. I don’t view losing Megna, who is smaller, older and has shown far less ability to produce in the NHL, as that big of a risk in this case. Or, like you said, Gaunce could be sent to Utica and wouldn’t require waivers.

        • I am Ted

          I don’t disagree with you, really. I just don’t see it happening. Canucks think they have a good shot at the playoffs and feel anything can happen in the playoffs. Then you have coach WD who is reluctant to play anyone not practiced and ready to go in the system. Also, we’re waiting for Bouchard’s Canuck debut. Given all that, I don’t think there’s much chance he is added.

          He might be a better player than Megna but Megna does have speed and effort (not good enough to warrant a top 6 role but yeah…).

          There are no tools that will accurately predict what a player will be. Humans are not consistent and you have no idea what goes on in another person’s head. One guy may turn into what was predicted; another guy may have something else going on that derails his career (injury, personal issue etc). Analytics is fine but isn’t the be all. Honestly, I don’t know enough about Nestrasil to say what he is or comment on a Megna/Nestrasil comparison.

          Canucks are need to add talent and they should take more chances on guys than a top end team would. Agreed. Will they? I don’t think so.

          • Chris the Curmudgeon

            I don’t see it happening either, for the same reasons you said, but I suppose that’s at the heart of my criticism for this regime in general: stubborn and very slow to adapt.

            At this point, I think Megna and Nestrasil are what they are. Megna is almost 27, after all. I guess I put more stock in analytics than you do, but I see Nestrasil as a strong puck possessor with 3rd line level scoring ability, while I see Megna as a good skater and little else. I don’t necessarily think Nestrasil moves the needle that much, but I don’t see any way aside from familiarity that he isn’t worth picking up over about 3 guys currently on our NHL roster. I guess we mostly agree on that point as well.

            I would like to see Boucher play too. And Rodin get a fair chance. Perhaps the coach was resisting making changes to a winning lineup over the streak, but now that’s over, and we can look back and acknowledge that very little about that streak was owing to contributions from Megna, Chaput or Gaunce (I kinda want to give Skille a pass, because I think he’s probably been the best of our bottom roster guys). Time to see what can be done about improving the team, even if it means adding guys who haven’t played as much in the “system”. I think that should have meant picking up Nestrasil too, but it seems that ship has probably sailed.

          • Dirk22

            I don’t really know anything about Nestrasil but looking at his stats he put up 23 pts in 55 games last year. That’s a 34 point pace over 82 games which would have him as the 5th highest scorer on the Canucks in ’15-’16. Fancy stats or not, his numbers are pretty decent and the argument is he is probably better than what they have now on that 4th line.

            I’m on team tank though so they can keep playing Megna and Chaput as far as I’m concerned.