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Author: Regina Sevostyanova  (Championat Publication)
Translated By: Eugene Belashchenko
Date: 07/19/2007
Alexander Nikulin (Ottawa Senators): I want to play in the NHL, but am ready for the AHL


Alexander Nikulin (Ottawa Senators) at the U20 WJC (Photo Source: RussianProspects Exclusive)
CSKA Moscow forward Alexander Nikulin (Ottawa Senators) made the decision to travel to North America. In 2004 the young forward was drafted by Ottawa in the fourth round. The player, who on August 25th will turn 22, believes that not to go to Canada means that it may be too later after. CSKA head coach Vyacheslav Bykov underlined that his club hopes Alex makes the Senators. Although, if this does not happen, they will always be glad to welcome their player back. In any case, Nikulin is sure that he will not be back in Moscow this season.

A. Nikulin: I think, that every player wants to tryt his abilities in the NHL. Right now I am spending the preseason with CSKA and in the end of August and the beginning of September, I am leaving. I will be trying to make it any way I can. I will be patient and will work very hard. My contract is signed for two years. I believe that in the beginning I will have to play on the farm team. I will gain experience, learn the language. But I am ready for this.

Did you follow the Senators last season?
A. Nikulin: To be honest – no. I didn’t have any time, since they player very late at night by our time. That is why I had to make my conclusions from the words of my agent and the team’s scout, who came over here from Ottawa to observe me. He told me that there I will have to be patient. That is why I’ll repeat myself again that I will likely have to try to make it up through the farm team. I am ready to work very hard for it.

What is your agent’s prediction? The entire season on the farm? Or maybe a bit less?
A. Nikulin: The agent is not guarantying anything of course. The scout predicted that I could spend 10-15 games in the AHL and then could possibly get the call-up to the NHL.

Will you be able to skate for CSKA at all this season?
A. Nikulin: I will definitely skate with the club during the preseason. Will I be able to play for the club, I am not sure yet. That is why I don’t have a specific date when I plan on travelling to Canada. Right now I am being told the end of August or the beginning of September. The season starts here on the fourth right? Well then I might skate in one game, but it is not likely.

Vyacheslav Bykov said that if things don’t work out in North America, he would always welcome you back here.
A. Nikulin: You know, I plan on staying there and making the NHL. I will not be jumping back righ away if something doesn’t work out right away. But if I do have to come back, it will be only to CSKA. I will not be considering any other options.

Possibly, you had a chance to talk to some of the guys who returned to Russia after making an attempt to make it in the NHL? Did you arrive at any conclusions?
A. Nikulin: I spoke to Enver Lisin (Phoenix Coyotes). He had personal reasons for his return back to Russia, but he is regretting that he left America early. This year he wants to try again in Phoenix. I will consider his advice. A lto depends here with what goals the NHL club’s management sends a player to the AHL. There are cases when a player is sent down to learn the language, gain experience in a different atmosphere. Some are sent down for other reasons…

How are you preparing for your departure, besides spending the preseason with CKSA?
A. Nikulin: I am learning English. My girlfriend is “training” me in the evenings. She knows English well. It’s not working out for me all that well right now to be honest.

Why did you decide not to go to Ottawa’s rookie camp?
A. Nikulin: I actually really wanted to. But I was told that it is not necessary as I already have a contract. I, by the way, have never been there. The contract was signed by fax. Thanks to CSKA for the fact that they always regarded me well. I am not even sure how the everyday life issues will be resolved over there [in Canada]. But you know, I will be 22 already in August. I need to go there, or it will be too late. When talking about the NHL, nothing really scares me.

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