Second chances aren’t always easy to come by in life, and that extends to the NHL as well.
However, for a 6’3” forward who likes to play the body and can score enough to get by in the NHL, there are almost always going to be teams willing to hand out a second, third and sometimes even fourth chances.
Tampa Bay took Svitov in the 2001 Draft; he was selected immediately after Ilya Kovalchuk and Jason Spezza, in the third overall slot. Then-Lightning G.M. Rick Dudley liked Svitov a lot despite mediocre numbers in Russia because of his projectable frame and his love for the rough and tumble. Unfortunately, Svitov missed almost the entire following year after he was taken from Avangard Omsk by the Army; he played a total of 3 RSL games in 2001-02 and it seemed to set him back.
Svitov’s offensive game has never really come along as the Lightning had hoped. He’s played six full seasons in Russia; two before he came to North America and four since, and it’s easy to see the stagnation in his numbers:
- 1999-00: 19GP – 3G – 3A – 6PTS
- 2000-01: 39GP – 8G – 7A – 15PTS
- 2005-06: 33GP – 3G – 7A – 10PTS
- 2007-08: 54GP – 10G – 10A – 20PTS
- 2008-09: 32GP – 8G – 8A – 16PTS
- 2009-10: 44GP – 7G – 17A – 24PTS
Svitov’s best goal-scoring season was a 19-goal effort in the AHL during the NHL lockout. He’s never scored more than seven goals in the NHL and has cracked double-digits in goals back home in Russia just once.
What he does bring is muscle. Tampa Bay’s management always defended Svitov’s character, but at his first World Juniors he was suspended two games for beating up on a Swiss player, and he spat in the face of future NHL’er Brian Sutherby at the same tournament.
He’s a player with muscle who can handle a regular shift and gets under the skin of his opposition. On paper he looks like a guy who could play a shutdown role, but he’s never been used much on the penalty kill (he got spot duty one year, but played just over 1:00 per game and actually spent more time on the power play) and the fact is he’s never been a plus player over any NHL season.
He looks a lot like a fourth line guy who can play an energy role and not add much else.