Andrej Nestrasil went from being one the Carolina Hurricanes best players last year to a healthy scratch this year.
During the Carolina Hurricanes’ playoff push last season, Andrej Nestrasil played an integral role on the team. As part of a line with Joakim Nordstrom and Jordan Staal, Nestrasil often drew the opponent’s toughest competition. All stats in this article are either sourced from Corsica or Hockey Reference and are score and venue adjusted. That line combined last year to post a 55.63 CF % and a ridiculous 60.2 GF% 5v5. From mid-December till the end of February those three were the best line for the Carolina Hurricanes. That all ended on February 26th against the Toronto Maple Leafs after a Nazem Kadri hit sent Nestrasil crashing into the boards. Nestrasil suffered a broken back and ended up missing the rest of the season.
This season Nestrasil returned with a clean bill of health and to start the season Bill Peters reunited him with Staal and Nordstrom. But the line couldn’t recapture the magic from last year.
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As a group, the line posted a 48.44 CF% and a miserable 40.67 GF%. And while Peters kept including Nordstrom in the lineup, he didn’t do the same with Nestrasil. Nestrasil’s total games played this season are only eight of the Hurricanes fifteen. Nestrasil last played against the Anaheim Ducks in a 4-2 loss. Since then, Peters listed him as a healthy scratch in both wins against the Capitals and the Sharks.
So What Happened?
There are a couple of theories about why Nestrasil hasn’t played as well this season. One is that last season could have been just an outlier and that Nestrasil actually outplayed his skill level. But the stats just don’t tell that story. His CF% and Relative CF% the year before last were also great as well with a 54.88 and 2.24 respectively. Another theory is that maybe his injury is still hampering him. This season though Nestrasil continued his run of posting great Corsi numbers with a 56.21 CF% and a 4.61 Rel.CF%. My eye tests seems to tell me the same as well, and it looked like his play improved as the season went along. The question now is why Bill Peters would sit a player performing this well. Nestrasil’s god awful 34.27% GF% may be the biggest reason behind why Nestrasil is riding the pine.
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Still, that poor GF% isn’t all Nestrasil’s fault. His PDO is a 91.14. Meaning that not only has Nestrasil gotten some awful goaltending in the games he’s played, but his shooting percentage is way down as well. Nestrasil’s shooting percentage is down almost a full 3% from what he was shooting last year to a measly 5.77%. So what is actually wrong with Nestrasil? Basically, nothing is wrong with him. He’s just had a run of bad luck and hasn’t been given enough ice time for things to even out. It’s hard to fathom why Peters still keeps him in the press box in favor of players like Joakim Nordstrom and to a lesser extent Viktor Stalberg. If Peters can find himself able to trust Andrej and return him to the lineup Nestrasil won’t fail him and is a valuable winger that can be slotted in on any line.