Wings lose Nestrasil on waivers; team felt he needed AHL experience to mature

DETROIT >> Andrej Nestrasil’s time in the NHL isn’t over.

Nestrasil was claimed by the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday and will join team on their west coast road trip.

The Hurricanes are coached by former Wings assistant coach Bill Peters.

Nestrasil is required to stay on the Hurricanes’ roster for at least 30 days.

“Andrej is a young player with good size who we feel can contribute to our group of forwards,” Carolina general manager Ron Francis said in a statement. “He has improved in each of his pro seasons and took a big step last year with Grand Rapids.”

More than one team put in a claim for him.

“He’s not quite ready for this level,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said Wednesday. “It’s just one of those things. We need him to play in the American League. Maybe one day he’ll play (in the NHL). His pace was good at the start but you know the league changes.

“The best bet for him is to spend a couple years in the American League and see if he can keep growing his game,” Babcock continued. “I’m not saying someone wouldn’t pick him up and go there. I don’t know how a kid like that grows playing no minutes and sitting in the crowd.”

After playing in the first 10 games of the season, Nestrasil was a healthy scratch in five of the last eight.

“Bottom line is Nesty has to play hockey,” Wings general manager said Wednesday. “It’s great to practice in the NHL everyday but you only get better playing games. He needs to hockey.”

Nestrasil has not even had a full year in the American Hockey League.

“The NHL is not a league to be developing players,” Holland added. “If he gets claimed, we got other young forwards.”

Those forwards in Grand Rapids include Anthony Mantha, Landon Ferraro and Mitch Callahan.

Nestrasil was a long shot to make the team out of training camp after struggling in the minors.

“One of the issues the last few years has been his quickness,” Holland said. “He worked real hard to get in shape. The NHL pace is quicker, you’re thinking quicker, moving quicker.”

Nestrasil, 23, registered two assists and a minus-3 in 13 games this season.

“This is the organization I would love to play for, but if someone else claims me then I would be happy to go somewhere else and play for the organization that claims me,” Nestrasil said. “That’s hockey life, just take it and go with it.”

The Wings, who drafted Nestrasil in the third round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, 75th overall, didn’t view Nestrasil as a top six forward.

“I just feel it’s better for me to play 15 to 17 minutes a game than 7-8,” said Nestrasil, who played just under 9 minutes his last game. “I think my best games were when I played 15 minutes and the bad games, like the last two, I played like 8-9. When I’m sitting too long on the bench it’s kind of hard to jump in and contribute the way you’d like to. I think I’ve done a pretty good job and we’ll see where it’s going to take me.”

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