Sestito announces he’s heading to Steelers

SHEFFIELD Steelers look set to announce NHL forward Tom Sestito as their new signing.

The 6ft 4ins winger announced on his Twitter feed on Monday evening that he was joining the three-time Elite League champions, bringing an end – should there be no last-minute complications – to the speculation over who Ryan Finnerty would bring in to replace Cory Pecker, who was axed last week after just nine games.

It’s expected the 25-year-old ‘enforcer’ – who has five points from 27 games in the NHL – will arrive in time to make his debut at Fife Flyers on Saturday night.

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Drafted as the 85th overall pick by the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2006, for who he played 13 games in the world’s top league, most of Sestito’s career has been spent in the American Hockey League, where he has racked up 115 points, including 50 goals, from 254 games. He has had more joy picking up penalty minutes throughout his short career, boasting more than 900 from his time in the AHL alone.

He was traded to the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers in February 2011 and played 14 games for them last season, where he was often used in the enforcer role.

It was during his short stint at the Wells Fargo Center that Sestito will have come to wider attention among hockey fans, featuring briefly in HBO’s widely-acclaimed ‘Road to the NHL Winter Classic’ fly-on-the-wall documentary leading up to the NHL’s annual outdoor event, which last season was between the Flyers and the New York Rangers.

He was due to play for the club’s AHL affiliate Adirondack Phantoms this season but, as a result of the knock-on effect from the current NHL lockout with Flyers’ regulars stepping down to ice with their second-tier affiliate, he now finds himself heading to the UK.

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Once he arrives – possibly on Thursday – Sestito will hook up with at least one familiar face in fellow forward Steve Goertzen, who he played alongside for AHL outfit Syracuse Crunch in 2007-08, and who himself has made almost 70 NHL appearances.

News of Steelers’ latest signing comes after two other players with considerably more NHL experience switched to the UK’s top-flight for the duration of the lockout.

Nottingham Panthers snapped up Carolina Hurricanes’ forward Anthony Stewart last month, while Braehead Clan confirmed on Monday that they had signed Drew Miller of the Detroit Red Wings.

Miller has 85 points – including 44 goals – from 342 NHL games, while Stewart has amassed 71 points from 262 games.

Talks between the NHL and the players’ union (NHLPA) are expected to reconvene on Wednesday in New York in the latest bid to end the stalemate.

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