Former first-round pick of the Tampa Bay Lightning and overall bust Alexander Svitov is apparently coming back to America according to Chris Botta of FanHouse.
A 6-foot-3 center, Svitov was the third overall pick in the 2001 draft. He struggled as a 20-year-old under coach John Tortorella in Tampa Bay and was traded to Columbus in 2003. In 2004-05, Svitov had 19 goals and 23 assists for 41 points plus 200 penalty minutes over 69 games with the Syracuse Crunch, the Blue Jackets’ American Hockey League affiliate. The following season, he was 7-11-18 with 145 penalty minutes in 76 games with Columbus.
Svitov never really panned out at all with Tampa Bay and his career with the Blue Jackets saw him play more as a checking line center and enforcer. Botta points out that he was able to find his scoring touch in Russia, sort of.
Last season he was 7-17-24 in 41 games with Omsk, fourth behind leading scorer Jaromir Jagr, who had 42 points in 51 games.
All right so he’s probably not going to be a big time scorer but then again you never know. After all, having big guys hanging around the net is working out pretty well for the Chicago Blackhawks and Dustin Byfuglien. Svitov certainly has no reservations about being physical so perhaps, and forgive me for putting it this way, someone can catch lightning in a bottle.
If you’re curious about who Tampa Bay passed on in that 2001 draft, there’s a good handful of solid NHL talent they missed out on by going for Svitov: Stephen Weiss, Mikko Koivu, Mike Komisarek, Tuomo Ruutu, Ales Hemsky, R.J. Umberger, and Colby Armstrong all stand out as first rounders that panned out a bit better. No one ever said the draft was a perfect science.