When the Pittsburgh Penguins acquired physical winger Ryan Reaves in a trade last month, Tom Sestito thought his time with the organization had come to an end.
Now, Sestito hopes he can finish out his career with the Penguins.
One of several players signed by Pittsburgh on July 1, Sestito will return for a third season. The 29-year old forward signed a one-year, two-way contract after spending most of last season with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
Known for his physical play, the 6-foot-5, 228 pound Sestito admitted that he wasn’t exactly overjoyed with Pittsburgh’s acquisition of Reaves.
“I wasn’t ecstatic with the trade,” Sestito said. “At first I thought my time in Pittsburgh was done.”
Pittsburgh assistant general manager Bill Guerin and head coach Mike Sullivan both talked to Sestito on the day of the Reaves trade, and they re-assured him that he still figured into the organization’s plans.
That gesture meant a lot to Sestito, who said he turned down better offers from other teams to stay with Pittsburgh.
“Pittsburgh has always been really honest with me. Some teams, you have to go through the assistant coach and you barely ever talk with the head coach. But Guerin, Sullivan and all of the coaches have been really honest and open with me.”
Sestito also understood the organization’s reasoning to bring in Reaves.
“They do get run more than a lot of teams,” Sestito said, adding he’d like an opportunity to be on the ice with Reaves. “I know him as a player really well. I think we’d make a really good fourth line.”
Sestito will be entering his 11th pro season. He led the NHL with 213 penalty minutes as a member of the Vancouver Canucks in 2013-14, and at the AHL level Sestito has always shown an ability to combine physical play with contributions on offense.
In 33 games with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton last season, he posted 16 points along with 121 penalty minutes. After Wilkes-Barre/Scranton was eliminated from the postseason, Sestito was chosen to be on the ‘Black Aces’ during Pittsburgh’s run to a second consecutive Stanley Cup.
“I enjoyed being a part of that and it’s always fun to see your peers succeed,” he said.
Now, as Sestito is likely to begin next season with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, he’d like to see another one of his peers win a championship in team captain Tom Kostopoulos. Sestito said he was happy to hear that Kostopoulos, 38, has decided to return for a 19th season, including the last four with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
“He’s been a great influence on me,” Sestito said. “Everyone wants to win for themselves, but everyone also wants to win for Tom Kostopoulos.”
While Kostopoulos’ return and the manner in which Pittsburgh handled the Reaves trade factored into Sestito’s decision to come back, there was another factor as well.
Sestito got married on July 1 and he and his wife have a young son. Perhaps more than anything, he said, family factored into his decision.
“This is one organization where I’m really comfortable. I probably had better offers than what I signed for, but my family likes Pittsburgh and Wilkes-Barre,” Sestito said. “Longer term, I’d like to finish my career with the Pittsburgh organization.”
Reach Tom Venesky at 570-991-6395 or on Twitter @TomVenesky