Godynyuk was hardly the best known Soviet player at the time. Born in Kiev, the defender played 5 seasons with Sokol Kiev. Most notable on his resume was the Directorate Award as best defenseman and all star team nod at the 1990 IIHF World Junior Championships.
The Leafs drafted Godynyuk later that year, taking him in the 6th round, 115th overall. He would join the Leafs half way through the following season.
The Leafs had hoped Godynyuk would blossom into an offensive presence. He had the tools - good size and skating, unafraid to handle the puck, and a strong break out pass.
But far too often he was an inconsistent enigma. He had wild swings in consistency, and that reportedly dated back to his years in Kiev. On one night he could be the best player on the ice, and the next he could be the worst. He was often caught out of position, especially on a turnover on one of his many end to end forays, or would forget about his defensive assignment.
The Leafs packaged Godynyuk and 4 others up to acquire Doug Gilmour. Gilmour adopted Godynyuk's #93 sweater number and became a legend. Godynyuk, meanwhile, was a bust, in Calgary. The Flames exposed him in the expansion draft, allowing Florida to take him, only to become a spare part there.
He was moved to Hartford in December, 1993, and made a great first impression - recording three assists in his first game with the Whalers, and that came without the benefit of even one practice. But Godynyuk continued to underwhelm and even frustrate over the long term in Hartford.
After spending considerable time in the minor leagues, Godynyuk returned to Europe in 1998. He left the NHL with 223 career games and 10 goals, 29 assists and 39 points. He will always be remembered as an intriguing player who was haunted by consistency issues and ultimately an inability to adapt his game to the satisfaction of NHL coaches.