The Washington Capitals have sometimes found diamonds in the rough with late round draft picks. In the sixth round in 1988, they found that gem in Dmitri Khristich.
Dmitri Khristich was also a Russian goal-scorer the Washington Capitals had before they drafted Alex Ovechkin less than a decade later. Khristich was taken in the sixth round at 120th overall in the 1988 NHL Draft. Oh and he also donned the number 8.
He played in 811 NHL games for the Capitals, Los Angeles Kings, Boston Bruins, and Toronto Maple Leafs. In this piece, like we have with other alumni of the past during the summer, we’ll focus solely on Khristich’s Capitals career.
Khristich came from the Soviet league playing for his home city, the Sokol Kiev. He had 10 points (9 goals, 1 assist) in 37 games prior to his selection and represented the Soviet Union at the World Junior Championships both before his selection and the season after.
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Khristich remained in Russia for the next three seasons. In the 1988-89 season, He recorded 27 points (10 goals, 27 assists) in 42 games and scored six goals and two assists for the Soviet Union in the World Junior Championshps. He was even better in 1989-90 with a career-high 36 points (14 goals, 22 assists) in 47 games.
After recording 22 points (10 goals, 12 assists) in 28 games before he was released to join the Capitals due to a tight budget among Soviet teams. He joined the team on December 11, 1990. He was the first youngest player in the Soviet league to play in the North American rinks.
Khristich had a strong rookie season with the Caps, scoring 13 goals and adding 14 assists for 27 points. He also appeared in three games for their AHL affiliate Baltimore Skipjacks and added four points in the playoffs (1 goal, 3 assists).
There was no sophomore slumps whatsoever for Khristich. In 1991-92, Khristich scored a career-high 36 goals and 37 assists for 73 points, helping lead the Capitals to a second place finish in the Patrick Division before bowing out in the semifinals to the Pittsburgh Penguins in seven games. Khristich had three goals and two assists, all coming in the first four games of that series.
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Khristich led the Capitals to another second place finish in 1992-93 despite beginning the season with a broken foot injury. His numbers? 31 goals and 35 assists for 66 points in just 64 games. Khristich added two goals and five assists in the playoffs.
Khristich added 58 points (29 goals, 29 assists) in 83 games in 1993-94 for a third place Patrick Division finish (note the season expanded that year to 84 games instead of 80). That spring the Capitals finally defeated the Penguins in the playoffs with Khristich adding two goals and assists in the series.
1994-95 turned out to be Khristich’s final season with the Caps. That campaign was a shortened season with 48 games due to the lockout. Khristich scored 12 goals and added 14 assists for 26 points. The Capitals finished second once again in the Patrick Division.
Khristich’s time in Washington ended that summer when the team traded him, along with goalie Byron Dafoe to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for a 1996 first rounder as well as a four-round pick they acquired from the Dallas Stars. Khristich finished his Capitals career playing in 419 games over seven seasons scoring 140 goals and adding 160 assists for 300 points.