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Lightning Round: Tampa Bay’s former top pick announced his retirement

A story about a not very well known Lightning pick.

NHL YoungStars Game Photo by Elsa/Getty Images/NHLI

Now that I have your attention, no, it’s not Steven Stamkos or Victor Hedman. It’s a much less known player in North America. His name is Alexander Svitov, a Russian forward, who was selected as the third-overall pick in the 2001 NHL Draft.

Svitov got on the Tampa Bay Lightning’s radar after a successful performance at U18 and U20 World Championships. In 2000, as a part of the Russian team, he reached the final game of the U18 World Championship, where Russia was defeated by Finland. Svitov recorded 8 (3+5) points in six games. A year after he made the Russian U20 roster, however Russia lost in the quarterfinal against Sweden. The 2002 World Juniors was much more successful for team Russia: Alexander Svitov, alongside with two other Lightning prospects, Alexander Polushin and Ruslan Zainullin, won the gold medal after beating Canada 5-4. Svitov recorded just 3 (2+1) points in five games, but had become the most penalized player of the tournament, establishing himself a role of the big and heavy player at an early age. Svitov’s still holds the record in penalty minutes on the World Juniors (101 minutes in 11 games).

Svitov arrived to North America in 2002. He split the first season between the NHL and the AHL, however later he managed to earn a spot on the Lightning roster, playing mostly in a bottom-six role and even played in seven playoff games, where he didn’t record any point. In 63 regular season games he had 8 (4+4) points. The 2003-04 season he also started between the NHL and AHL, but after playing in 11 regular season games for the Lightning, he was traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for Darryl Sydor. His stint in Columbus was a little bit longer than in Tampa, but he still didn’t manage to play the whole 82-game season in the NHL. Overall he recorded 37 (13+24) points in 179 regular season games in the NHL and 69 (32+37) points in 110 games in the AHL. He also spent the season with the Syracuse Crunch, when the team was affiliated with the Blue Jackets. In 2007 he finally signed a contract with a team from his hometown Avangard Omsk.

While he didn’t have a big impact in North America, he had definitely become a significant player in Russia. He earned the captaincy in his first season with Avangard. His team wasn’t very successful at that time in KHL, despite even having Jaromir Jagr on their roster, and Svitov didn’t even get past the first round of the playoffs with his team. in 2010 he signed a contract with Salavat Yulaev Ufa and won with the team their only Gagarin Cup so far. He also scored the Gagarin Cup clinching goal in a fifth game against the Atlant Moscow Oblast.

After three season in Ufa, Svitov signed with another big team from the KHL – Ak Bars Kazan. He spent five season with them and won his second Gagarin Cup in 2018. The last season before retirement he played for Lokomotiv Yaroslavl. Overall he played 493 regular season games in the KHL, recording 86 goals and 106 assits; in 119 playoff games in the KHL he recorded 19 goals and 20 assists.

Ten years after he won the World Juniors gold medal, he added a gold medal from the IIHF World Championship to his collection.

At Raw Charge, we also had a privilege of writing about Alexander Svitov: in 2017 Justin ranked him as the 14th among the Lightning first round picks

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