Vitali Yachmenev

A lot of people got really excited about Vitali Yachmenev back in the 1995-96 season. The 59th overall draft pick by the LA Kings in 1994, Yachmenev spent much of his rookie season playing on Wayne Gretzky's right wing, and looking good in doing so.

It was probably the best and the worst thing that could happen to the young Russian from Chelyabinsk. He played well along side The Great One, and picked up 19 goals and 53 points that season.

But that raised expectations for the youngster, who would not be able to put up good numbers once Gretzky was traded to St. Louis towards the end of that season, and in the following two campaigns.

Though his stock plummeted, Yachmenev landed on his skates with the expansion Nashville Predators in 1998-99.

Yachmenev played 4 years in Nashville. For a sniper, he did not put up any memorable numbers, never scoring more than 16 goals in those seasons. In fact, in his last NHL season he scored just five times.

But he was an intelligent hockey player with good hockey sense. He was trusted on the penalty kill and he was a reliable defensive winger, willing to take hits on the wall to get the puck out of the zone.

He was a bit of a cult hero in Nashville. He was a quick player, not a speedy player, and brought energy to each game that fans and teammates appreciated.

In the summer of 2003 Yachmenev returned to Russia where he continued to play hockey for many years.


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