For the first time in his three-year history with the Tampa Bay Lightning, General Manager Rick Dudley took the conventional route, selecting Russian Alexander Svitov third overall in the 2001 Entry Draft. In his previous two drafts with the organization, Dudley executed blockbuster draft day deals, shipping off the Lighting s first round choice in exchange for immediate help.
While Dudley entertained offers for this year’s selection, he was not intrigued enough to part with it.
Following the Draft Lottery, when Dudley learned he would have the 3rd overall pick and would likely miss out on Russian sensation Ilya Kovalchuk and CHL star Jassen Spezza, he alluded to a third player he considered equally talented. No names were ever mentioned, but it was assumed Svitov was the player Dudley coveted.
The Omsk, Russia, center is considered to be the most NHL ready player in the draft. His combination of size, skill and grit makes him a perfect fit with the Tampa Bay organization, and the perfect mold of the “Dudley player”.
Svitov is a big (6 3″, 198lbs), physical player who is a strong skater and has decent offensive ability. His biggest attribute is his defensive play. As Tampa Bay Lightning Color Analyst Bobby The Chief Taylor explained, “Defense is the biggest thing with this team. You can’t come in and not be defensively responsible. Svitov is great defensively. Offense can be learned with time.”
Svitov is expected to have an immediate impact on the struggling team. With Tampa’s face-off percentage looming barely above 40%, Svitov