Nesterov, a puck-moving defenseman with a mean streak drafted out of Russia, was selected in the CHL Import Draft by Tri-City following the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. Paperwork could not be formalized last summer, so Nesterov stayed him. It was expected he would be taking his talents to Kennewick, Washington, this year instead of remaining in Russia, but it appears that is not to be the case.
After the 2011 NHL Entry Draft Lightning Head Scout Al Murray said Nesterov was "hoping to be in Tri-City from the get-go this campaign."
Nesterov has been playing for Traktor Chelyabinsk in the KHL this preseason, where he is listed on the team's roster as one of 11 defensemen. He could return to the Chelyabinsk junior team, where he had five goals and 19 points last season.
The WHL is regarded as one of, if not the best developmental leagues in all of junior hockey. If half the battle of developing a Russian prospect is to get them to commit to playing in North America, this has to feel like a minor defeat.
On the plus side, Nesterov was recently named to Russia's U-20 entry in the upcoming 4-Nations tournament in Podolsk, Russia.
8/31 Update: The Americans told us both import slots are filled on the team, so technically there is no room for Nesterov even if he wanted to join the Americans after the 4-Nations tournament. However, he is still listed on their 50-man organizational roster, so the door isn't completely shut.