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Author: Dinara Kafiskina (Sport Day After Day)
Translated By: Eugene Belashchenko
Date: 07/11/2008
Ilya Nikulin: NHL is my Childhood Dream

HC Ak Bars and Russian national team defenseman was drafted by the Atlanta Thrashers in 2000, but is yet to try his ability in the best league in the world. Finally information has surfaced in the media that Ilya Nikulin (Atlanta Thrashers) will start the next season in the NHLÖ

I. Nikulin: I have not red it myself, but I have been told about it.† I donít know where this information came from. I have not yet signed a deal with Atlanta.† Thus far we are in the middle of negotiations.

Are you leaning towards remaining in Russia or moving to the US?
I. Nikulin: Probably more towards leaving.† But even though I am leaning in that direction, it does not mean that it will take place. Of course I want to try to play in the NHL.† This you can say is my dream.††

What is the main road block?
I. Nikulin: I still donít completely know all the details of the issues.† But at this moment there are a few details we are continuing to negotiate.

You have an active contract with Ak Bars from KazanÖ
I. Nikulin: Yes, but with Kazan I have an agreement that they will not interfere with my departure for the NHL.† Itís outlined in the contract.

How many years does Atlanta offer you?
I. Nikulin: From the beginning we talked about a one year deal.† I myself do not want to sign a long term deal.† Simply because in a year I will become a free agent and Atlanta is not against that.† Then weíll see.

This is not the first invitation you received from the Thrashers?
I. Nikulin: No, not the first.† Last year they also invited me.

You were not ready then?
I. Nikulin: Then I decided to spend another year in Russia.

And right now you feel that the time is right.†
I. Nikulin: I really want to try myself over there.† Later it will be too late (smiling).

If you go, will you go with your wife?
I. Nikulin: At first I will be alone, since at first I will need to earn a spot in the lineup. Here I also have an agreement that if I donít make the main team, I will return to Kazan.† I donít plan on playing for Atlantaís farm club.

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