Then and Now: Niko Dimitrakos

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Before suffering a groin injury in the middle of February this season, Tom Sestito had played in 14 games for the Philadelphia Flyers posting an assist and 83 PIMs.

The Orange and Black obtained Sestito in a trade with the Columbus Blue Jackets in February of 2011, where the Flyers shipped Greg Moore and Michael Chaput to Ohio in exchange for the hulking forward.

Columbus was able to draft Sestito with the third-round pick they acquired in a draft-day deal with the San Jose Sharks in 2004, which sent a fourth-rounder in 2006 and a second-rounder in 2007 San Jose’s way. San Jose was only able to give the Blue Jackets a third-round pick in 2006 because of a deal they completed at the 2006 trade deadline with the Philadelphia Flyers, who received former University of Maine standout Niko Dimitrakos in return for the pick.

After posting four goals and 12 assists in 45 games with the San Jose Sharks for the majority of the 2005-2006 regular season, Dimitrakos potted five goals and four assists in 19 games with the Flyers to close out the campaign. Little did the forward know his final goal in the NHL would be a game-winner against the New York Rangers in a Flyers’ 4-1 win on April 15, 2006. As for the 2006 postseason, Dimitrakos went pointless with two PIMs and four shots on net in the first five games of the Flyers’ six-game loss to the Buffalo Sabres in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. This would be the last time Dimitrakos played a game in the NHL playoffs.

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The forward stayed in the Flyers’ organization for the beginning of the 2006-07 season, but he spent most of his time with the Philadelphia Phantoms. In just five NHL games that season Dimitrakos had zero points, six PIMs, and four shots on net with a minus-4 rating. In the AHL, Dimitrakos finished seventh on the team for points, as he posted 15 goals and 13 assists in 45 games. In March of 2007, Dimitrakos was loaned to the Chicago Wolves (who at the time were the Atlanta Thrashers’ AHL affiliate) in exchange for forward Jared Ross.

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“Niko is someone who has NHL playoff experience and will be an invaluable addition to our roster at this pivotal stage in our season,” Wolves general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff told the Wolves’ website at the time.

In 17 regular season games with the Wolves, Dimitrakos had four goals and 10 helpers to help the Wolves finish as the second seed in the West to take on the third-seeded Milwaukee Admirals in the Division Semifinals. After the club swept the Admirals and beat the Iowa Chops (who are now the Texas Stars) in six games during the Division Finals, Chicago lost in five games to the Hamilton Bulldogs in the Western Conference FInals.

Dimitrakos had three goals and seven assists in the 15-game run for the Wolves finishing fourth in scoring for the team behind Darren Haydar and Jason Krog (both former New Hampshire products), and Brett Sterling. This marked the end of his time in Chicago, as Dimitrakos signed with the Binghamton Senators for the 2007-08 season. In 64 games with the club, Dimitrakos registered 20 tallies and 20 helpers to finish fifth on the team with 40 points. Current Adirondack Phantom Denis Hamel led the club with 55 points. Binghamton missed the playoffs while Chicago went on to win the Calder Cup.

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After his season with the Sens, Dimitrakos signed with Skelleftea AIK in Elitserien, the club that features former Flyers’ goaltending prospect Joacim Eriksson In the one season Dimitrakos was a member of Skelleftea AIK the club featured Tim Erixon, Adam Larsson, David Rundbland, and Mikael Renberg. In 54 games for the club, Dimitrakos set his professional career-high for goals in a season with 22 and led the team in points with 44 points.

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As Skelleftea AIK finished six in the SEL with 80 points, the club took on the second-seeded Linkopings HC in the Quarterfinals. Although they upset the team in seven games, Skelleftea AIK lost in the next round when they were swept by the eventual champions in Farjestads BK. Dimitrakos only took part in one game during the postseason going pointless with a minus-1 rating.

For the 2009-10 campaign, Dimitrakos joined CSKA Moskva in the KHL, a team that featured Nikita Filatov and Mark Hartigan. With his lowest point total since the 2004-05 season, Dimitrakos finished 10th on the team in scoring with 12 goals and five assists in 50 games. Ranked as the seventh seed in the Western Conference, Dimitrakos and CSKA Moskva faced the second-seeded Metallurg Magnitogorsk in the Conference Quarterfinals. CSKA Moskva suffered a three-game sweep while Dimitrakos went pointless for a second straight postseason and added on 12 PIMs with a minus-two rating overall. To start the 2010-2011 campaign, Dimitrakos returned to the Elitserien. This time the forward joined MODO HK, a club that featured Anders Eriksson, Mattias Timander, Ole-Kristian Tollefsen, and Ladislav Nagy.

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Dimitrakos would score four goals and add an assist in 24 tilts before leaving for the Deutsche Eishockey Liga (DEL) to join the Adler Mannheim Eagles. On a club with former NHL goaltender Fred Brathwaite and forward Steve Reinprecht, Dimitrakos posted seven tallies and eight assists in 20 games before he joined the club for the 2011 DEL playoffs.

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To qualify for the 2011 DEL playoffs, Adler Mannheim needed to beat the Thomas Sabo Ice Tigers. The club did so with a pair of 3-2 victories. After qualifying to become a seven seed, Adler Mannheim took on the two seed in the DEG Metro Stars (or Dusseldorfer EG) in the Quarterfinals. After winning the first game 7-2, Adler Mannheim lost the final three games of the best-of-five series by a combined score of 9-4. In the Eagles’ six games, Dimitrakos had three goals and three assists going plus-4 overall.

This past season, Dimitrakos received a 25-game professional try-out offer from the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins of the AHL after the Vancouver Canucks released him from an identical deal in September of 2011. After he potted six goals and supplied four helpers, the Pens dropped Dimitrakos from his PTO after 21 games. At this point in time Dimitrakos returned to Adler Mannheim of the DEL.

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On a club that now featured Shawn Belle, Dimitrakos had five goals and nine assists in 20 games to help the Eagles finish fourth in the standings. With home-ice advantage in the Quarterfinals, Dimitrakos and Adler Mannheim beat the Hamburg Freezers in five games before defeating ERC Ingolstadt 3-1 in the best-of-five Semifinals. Taking on Eisbaren Berlin in the Finals, the Eagles lost 3-2 for their third Finals’ loss in team history. Dimitrakos only played in four games for the Eagles during their run, as he pitched in an assist.