Toronto Maple Leafs: Whatever Happened to Dmitri Yushkevich?

TORONTO, ON - MARCH 17: Dmitri Yushkevich #36 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates against the Boston Bruins during NHL game action on March 17, 1999 at Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Graig Abel/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - MARCH 17: Dmitri Yushkevich #36 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates against the Boston Bruins during NHL game action on March 17, 1999 at Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Graig Abel/Getty Images) /

Dmitri Yushkevich played 7 seasons on the Toronto Maple Leafs blueline from 1995-2002.  During his time in Toronto, he was one of my favourite players.  He was gritty, could hit, was an excellent shot-blocker, and though he wasn’t known for his offensive abilities, he put up a decent amount of points each season.

Yushkevich is probably best known for contribution in a shutdown role that helped the Toronto Maple Leafs make it to the Conference Finals during the 1999 NHL playoffs.  So, whatever happened to Dmitri Yushkevich?

Originally, Dmitri Yushkevich was a member of the Philadelphia Flyers.  He was drafted by the Flyers in the 6th round (122 overall) in the 1991 NHL Entry Draft after playing three seasons for Torpedo Yaroslavl in the USSR.

In 1991-92, Dmitri Yushkevich would remain in Russia and play for Dynamo Moscow.  He also helped win the gold medal at the 1992 Olympic games with the CIS Unified Team.  Dmitri Yushkevich joined the Philadelphia Flyers in 1992-93 and had career bests for assists and points in his rookie season putting up 27 assists and 32 points.

Dmitri Yushkevich on the Toronto Maple Leafs

In the summer of 1995, the Toronto Maple Leafs would send a 1st round pick (#15-Dainius Zubrus), 2nd round pick (#30-Jean-Marc Pelletier) and 4th round pick (#84-Mikael Simons) to the Philadelphia Flyers for Dmitri Yushkevich and a 2nd round pick (#50-Francis Larivee).

Pretty even trade in retrospect.  Dainius Zubrus had a great career playing 19 NHL seasons.  Francis Larivee and Mikael Simons never played in the NHL and Jean-Marc Pelletier only played 7 NHL games with 1 win and a .857 SV%.

Dmitri Yushkevich had his best seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1998-99 and 1999-2000.  Though he wasn’t known as a goal scorer, Yushkevich led Leafs defensemen with 6 goals and was one point behind team leading defenseman, Sylvain Cote, with 28 points in 1998-99.

In 1999-2000, Dmitri Yushkevich put up 27 points and played on the “World” team during the 2000 NHL All-Star Game in Toronto.  The Toronto Maple Leafs were well represented in that game with Curtis Joseph as the starting goalie for North America and Mats Sundin as the starting centre for the World.  Yushkevich even scored a goal to help the World defeat North America 9-4.

Unfortunately in February 2002, Dmitri Yushkevich was diagnosed with thrombosis (CBC), which is a life-threatening blood clot in his leg.  The diagnoses came shortly before Yushkevich was to play on his third Olympic team.  He would sit out the rest of the season and the 2002 NHL Playoffs despite his pleas to play through his condition.

The Toronto Maple Leafs would trade Dmitri Yushkevich the following summer to the Florida Panthers for the rights to Robert Svehla.  Yushkevich felt betrayed as he felt he was okay to play, but the Toronto Maple Leafs medical staff didn’t feel it was safe to clear him.

The Florida Panthers took the chance on Yushkevich since Robert Svehla was planning to retire anyway.  Apparently, then Toronto Maple Leafs GM, Pat Quinn, persuaded Svehla to change his mind about retirement.  Robert Svehla led all Leafs defensemen in points during the 2002-2003 season but retired after one season in Toronto to spend more time with his family.

Dmitri Yushkevich After the Toronto Maple Leafs

During the 2002-03 season, Dmitri Yushkevich played on three different NHL teams: the Florida Panthers, LA Kings and Philadelphia Flyers.  It seemed like each team was taking a chance on him, but once they realized the severity of his condition, he’d move on to another team.

Though he’d be traded to the Washington Capitals in the summer of 2003, Dmitri Yushkevich decided it was time to head home to Russia for the 2003-04 season.  He would join Lokomotiv Yaroslavl in the Russian Super League.

Dmitri Yushkevich would remain in the RSL for 5 seasons but would announce his retirement from hockey in January 2008 after the death of his first wife so he could take care of their three children.  He would however renounce his retirement to play in the inaugural season of the KHL in 2008-09 for Sibir Novosibirsk and lead their defensemen in scoring. (

Next. Whatever Happened to Todd Gill?. dark

His final season of pro hockey would come in 2009-10 as Dmitri Yushkevich would play a single season for Kärpät of the Finnish Elite League.