April 03, 2016

Denis Shvidki

Drafted 12th overall in 1999 Denis Shvidki was an excellent prospect for the Florida Panthers.

The big bodied Ukrainian came to play junior hockey in Canada, leading the OHL's Barrie Colts to the Memorial Cup final in 2000. He was a creative wizard with the puck, often making hesitant defenders look foolish. He also had a deadly accurate shot. Despite his good size, he did not care much for the physical game. He learned to use his size to his advantage to protect the puck.

But his promising career did not work out for Shvidki in Florida. He played in parts of four seasons with the Panthers, scoring 11 goals and 25 points in a total of 76 career games.

Injuries, as is so often the case, really plagued Shvidki. After a solid training camp and preseason, Shvidki suffered a serious concussion early in his sophomore NHL campaign. The injury cost him two months of playing time. In an effort to regain his conditioning Shvidki reported to the minor leagues where he ended up tearing a ligament in his ankle, ending his season after just a total of 16 games played all year.

With such a key development season lost to injury, the Panthers farmed Shvidki out for the vast majority of the next two seasons, hoping he could find his scoring touch. In two seasons with the AHL's San Antonio Rampage he struggled, though became more of a perimeter playmaker and putting up decent numbers in the second year.

When the NHL lockout occurred in 2004-05, Shvidki returned to Europe, never to return. He played several years in the RSL/KHL, also appearing in Finland, Germany and Romania.

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