Oleksiy Mykolaiovych "Alexei" Zhitnik (Ukrainian: Олексій Миколайович Житник, Russian: Алексей Николаевич Житник; born October 10, 1972) is a Ukrainian-Russian former professional ice hockey defenceman. Zhitnik has played more games in the National Hockey League (NHL) (1,085) than any other Soviet-born defenceman. He has represented the Soviet Union, CIS, and Russia internationally, and Ukraine during two NHL All-Star Games. His number, 13, has been honored by Sokil Kyiv.
October 10, 1972|
Kiev, Ukrainian SSR, Soviet Union
|Height||5 ft 11 in (180 cm)|
|Weight||214 lb (97 kg; 15 st 4 lb)|
Los Angeles Kings
New York Islanders
Ak Bars Kazan
Unified Team and
81st overall, 1991|
Los Angeles Kings
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, Zhitnik was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers for Freddy Meyer and a conditional third round draft pick. 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. On July 26, 2008, Zhitnik returned to Russia and the now-Kontinental Hockey League, signing a tryout contract with Dynamo Moscow.
- 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)
- On February 20, 2007, as a Flyer, he became the eighth defenseman born outside of North America, and first born in the Soviet Union to appear in 1,000 NHL games (Sergei Zubov has since joined Zhitnik in that regard). The others at the time: Nicklas Lidström, Börje Salming, Calle Johansson, Ulf Samuelsson, Fredrik Olausson (all from Sweden), Petr Svoboda from the Czech Republic and Teppo Numminen of Finland.
Regular season and playoffsEdit
|1988–89||ShVSM Kyiv||USSR II||5||1||0||1||2||—||—||—||—||—|
|1990–91||ShVSM Kyiv||USSR III||1||0||0||0||0||—||—||—||—||—|
|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||—||—||—||—||—|
|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||—||—||—||—||—|
|Men's ice hockey|
|Representing Soviet Union|
|World Junior Championship|
|1991 Saskatoon||Ice hockey|
|World Junior Championship|
|1992 Fũssen||Ice hockey|
|1992 Albertville||Ice hockey|
|1998 Nagano||Ice hockey|
- 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
- New York Islanders - News: ISLANDERS ACQUIRE MEYER FOR ZHITNIK - 12/16/2006
- "Zhitnik, Westcott, bought out". TSN.ca. 2008-06-30. Retrieved 2008-06-30.