At 6'2" and 200lbs, Vitaly Vishnevskiy was an average sized defenseman by NHL standards. But he didn't let that stop him from playing like a wrecking ball.
Aided by his strong mobility on skates, Vishnevskiy was a highly sought after player in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft. The Anaheim Ducks picked him 5th overall, passing on the flashier likes of Manny Malhotra, Alex Tanguay and Nikolai Antropov. Vishnevskiy was described as "a loose cannon" and drew comparisons to Darius Kasparaitis.
After being named the top defenseman at the 1999 World Junior Championships (which Russia won) the Anaheim Ducks wanted to get this mighty prospect in their fold as soon as possible. Aside from a 30 game apprenticeship stint in the minors, Vishnevskiy was a mainstay in Anaheim for the next six seasons.
The freight train from Ukraine was a huge hit with Anaheim fans. Let's take a look at a couple of gems from Vishnevskiy:
One would never question Vishnevski's enthusiasm for the physical game, though he could be almost too exuberant at times. He could be guilty of times of looking for the big hit and losing his positioning rather than playing a safer game. Such is life with highlight reel hitters who, one way or another, have a big "impact" on the game.
In 2006 Vishnevskiy would leave Anaheim and bounce around the league a little bit - joining Atlanta, New Jersey and Nashville for brief appearances. In 2008 he would go home to Russia to continue playing for several years.