It appears Nikita Nesterov will go to the open market in July.
Per Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet, the Montreal Canadiens will not qualify the 24-year-old defenseman, which means he will become an unrestricted free agent.
The Habs acquired Nesterov from the Tampa Bay Lightning in January, parting ways with Jonathan Racine and a sixth-round pick in this year’s draft as part of the deal. He was on a one-year contract, worth $725,000 and a pending restricted free agent when the season ended.
He appeared in 13 regular season games for the Habs, as well as two playoff games before Montreal was eliminated in the first round.
It was suggested in April, when KHL blue liner Jakub Jerabek had reportedly signed in Montreal, that the left-shooting defenseman Nesterov may not be back with the Habs for next season.
There had been talk a few days ago that Nesterov was on his way to the KHL, although his agent, Dan Milstein, shot down those rumors, writing on Twitter that they were “ABSOLUTELY FALSE” and that his client wants to play in the NHL.