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Alexei Zhitnik
Born October 10, 1972 (1972-10-10) (age 37),

Kiev, Ukrainian SSR, USSR

Height

Weight

5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)

214 lb (97 kg; 15 st 4 lb)

Position Defence
Shoots Left

Oleksiy Mykolaiovych Zhytnyk (Ukrainian: Олексій Миколайович Житник; Russian: Алексей Житник, Alexei Zhitnik; born October 10, 1972) is a Ukrainian ice hockey defenceman who is currently a free agent, having most recently played for Dynamo Moscow of the Kontinental Hockey League, serving as captain for 2009-10 season before being released as Dynamo collapsed and folded. Zhitnik has played more games in the National Hockey League (NHL) than any other Soviet-born defenceman. He has represented the Soviet Union, CIS, and Russia internationally.


Playing careerEdit

Zhitnik was drafted 81st overall by the Los Angeles Kings in the 1991 NHL Entry Draft after playing for Sokil Kyiv in the Soviet Championship League for two years. After another year, he came to the NHL for the 1992–93 NHL season.

He made his NHL debut on October 6, 1992 against the Calgary Flames and scored his first goal nine nights later, also against Calgary. In his rookie season with the Kings, he finished second among rookie defenceman in points with 48. He was an important part of the Kings' playoff run to the Stanley Cup Final, where they lost to the Montreal Canadiens.

After another year of playing with the Kings and Wayne Gretzky, he was traded on February 14, 1995, along with Robb Stauber, Charlie Huddy and a fifth-round draft pick, to the Buffalo Sabres for Grant Fuhr, Denis Tsygurov and Philippe Boucher. He became one of the team's best players, helping the Sabres win the Northeast Division in the 1996–97 NHL season, his second full year with the team. In the 1997–98 NHL season, he led all defensemen in shorthanded goals (3). He also helped the Sabres reach the finals in the 1998–99 NHL season and stayed on the team until the 2004–05 NHL lockout when he returned to the Russian Super League.

Following the lockout, he signed a four-year contract with the New York Islanders. He became an effective force on the team, and even though he missed the last 18 games of the season with a fractured ankle, he finished second among team defenceman in scoring.

On December 16, 2006, in move to clear some room under the new salary cap, Zhitnik was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers for Freddy Meyer and a conditional third round draft pick.[1] However, he was traded two months later on February 24, 2007 to the Atlanta Thrashers to add experience for playoffs, in exchange for Braydon Coburn.

Due to Zhitnik's disappointing play with the Thrashers combined the teams focus on rebuilding, the team bought out Zhitnik's contract on June 30, 2008, making him a free agent.[2] On July 26, 2008, Zhitnik returned to Russia and the now-Kontinental Hockey League, signing a tryout contract with Dynamo Moscow. Zhitnik eventually became Dynamo's final captain before being released as Dynamo folded following the 2009-10 KHL season.

AwardsEdit

  • 1992: Gold Medal (XVII Olympic Winter Games)
  • 1992–93: Clarence S. Campbell Bowl (Los Angeles Kings)
  • 1996: Bronze Medal (World Cup of Hockey)
  • 1998: Silver Medal (XVIII Olympic Winter Games)
  • 1998–99: Played in the All-Star Game (NHL)
  • 2001–02: Played in the All-Star Game (NHL)
  • 2008: Spengler Cup Champion (Dynamo Moscow)
  • 2008–09: Played in the All-Star Game (KHL)

RecordsEdit

  • On February 20, 2007, as a Flyer, he became the eighth defenseman born outside of North America, and first born in the former USSR to appear in 1,000 NHL games. The others were (at the time; Sergei Zubov has since joined Zhitnik as Russian/Soviet defencemen to play in 1,000 NHL games): Nicklas Lidström, Börje Salming, Calle Johansson, Ulf Samuelsson, Fredrik Olausson (all from Sweden), Petr Svoboda from the Czech Republic and Teppo Numminen of Finland.

Career statisticsEdit

Regular season Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
1989–90 Sokil Kyiv USSR 32 3 4 7 16
1990–91 Sokil Kyiv USSR 46 1 4 5 46
1991–92 CSKA Moscow CIS 36 2 7 9 48
1992–93 Los Angeles Kings NHL 78 12 36 48 80 24 3 9 12 26
1993–94 Los Angeles Kings NHL 81 12 40 52 101
1994–95 Los Angeles Kings NHL 11 2 5 7 27
1994–95 Buffalo Sabres NHL 21 2 5 7 34 5 0 1 1 14
1995–96 Buffalo Sabres NHL 80 6 30 36 58
1996–97 Buffalo Sabres NHL 80 7 28 35 95 12 1 0 1 16
1997–98 Buffalo Sabres NHL 78 15 30 45 102 15 0 3 3 36
1998–99 Buffalo Sabres NHL 81 7 26 33 96 21 4 11 15 22
1999–00 Buffalo Sabres NHL 74 2 11 13 95 4 0 0 0 8
2000–01 Buffalo Sabres NHL 78 8 29 37 75 13 1 6 7 12
2001–02 Buffalo Sabres NHL 82 1 33 34 80
2002–03 Buffalo Sabres NHL 70 3 18 21 85
2003–04 Buffalo Sabres NHL 68 4 24 28 102
2004–05 Ak Bars Kazan RSL 23 1 8 9 30 4 0 0 0 2
2005–06 New York Islanders NHL 59 5 24 29 88
2006–07 New York Islanders NHL 30 2 9 11 40
2006–07 Philadelphia Flyers NHL 31 3 10 13 38
2006–07 Atlanta Thrashers NHL 18 2 12 14 14 4 0 0 0 4
2007–08 Atlanta Thrashers NHL 65 3 5 8 58
2008–09 Dynamo Moscow KHL 56 4 7 11 58 12 1 2 3 22
2009–10 Dynamo Moscow KHL 56 0 7 7 60
NHL totals 1,085 96 375 471 1,268 98 9 30 39 168


International playEdit

Medal record
Men's ice hockey
Competitor for Soviet Union
World Junior Championship
Silver 1991 Saskatoon Ice hockey
Competitor for CIS
World Junior Championship
Gold 1992 Fũssen Ice hockey
Olympic Games
Gold 1992 Albertville Ice hockey
Competitor for Russia
Olympic Games
Silver 1998 Nagano Ice hockey

International statisticsEdit

Year Team Event Place GP G A Pts PIM
1991 Soviet Union WJC 2 7 1 1 2 2
1991 Soviet Union CC 5th 5 0 0 0 4
1992 CIS WJC 1 7 1 1 2 2
1992 Unified Team Oly 1 8 1 0 1 0
1992 CIS WC 5th 6 0 2 2 6
1994 Russia WC 5th 6 1 0 1 8
1996 Russia WC 4th 8 1 1 2 6
1996 Russia WCH SF 3 0 1 1 2
1998 Russia Oly 2 6 0 2 2 2
2000 Russia WC 11th 6 0 1 1 2
2006 Russia Oly 4th 0 0 0 0 0
Junior Int'l totals 14 2 2 4 4
Senior Int'l totals 48 3 7 10 30

Career transactionsEdit

  • Selected by Los Angeles Kings in 1991 NHL Entry Draft. He was Los Angeles' 4th round choice, 81st overall.
  • Traded to Buffalo by Los Angeles Kings with Robb Stauber, Charlie Huddy and Los Angeles' 5th round choice (Marian Menhart) in 1995 Entry Draft for Philippe Boucher, Denis Tsygurov and Grant Fuhr, February 14, 1995.
  • Signed as a free agent by Kazan (Russia), December 6, 2004.
  • Signed as a free agent by the New York Islanders, August 2, 2005.
  • Traded to Philadelphia by the Islanders for Freddy Meyer and a conditional 3rd round draft pick on December 16, 2006.
  • Traded to Atlanta by Philadelphia for defenseman Braydon Coburn on February 24, 2007

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