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Ilya Nikulin

Full name: Ilya Vladimirovich Nikulin
Team: Ak Bars Kazan (KHL)

Number: 5
Position: Defenseman
Height: 6’3”/191 cm
Weight: 215 lbs/98 kg
Born: March 12, 1982 in Moscow, RUS
Drafted: Selected by the Atlanta Thrashers in 2nd round (31st overall) of the 2000 Entry Draft

Strengths: Nikulin has developed into one of Russia’s most skilled and trusted defensemen in both club and international play. He has an imposing presence on the blue line and is an effective powerplay coordinator. Nikulin is a leader on Ak Bars and on the Russian national team.

Weaknesses: As he logs lots of ice time, Nikulin can be prone to making defensive mistakes due to fatigue. Although he is a respected player in Russia, Nikulin has not tried out the NHL and his playing experience on the small-ice remains limited.

Biography: Born and raised in Russia’s capital, Nikulin developed in the Dynamo Moscow hockey school which was known for producing some of Russia’s best defensemen. Ilya played primarily as a stay-at-home blueliner for Dynamo’s farm club in his first few years. He represented Russia at two Under-18 World Championships and was on the silver medal team in 2000. In the same year, he caught the attention of NHL clubs and was the first player drafted in the second round of the NHL entry draft. Nikulin was selected by the Atlanta Thrashers. However, he never joined the club, instead preferring to stay in Russia and blossom into one of Dynamo’s most reliable players. In 2005, Dynamo became the Russian Superleague’s playoff champions. Ilya continued his career with Ak Bars Kazan – one of the perennially most consistent and dangerous teams in Russian hockey. Kazan won the league championship in Nikulin’s first year there. With each subsequent season with Ak Bars, Nikulin’s icetime increased and he became the team’s go-to defenseman in all situations, including on the powerplay and penalty-killing. In 2008, Nikulin came close to leaving to the NHL to play for the Thrashers, but decided to remain with Ak Bars in the newly-formed KHL. His team won the KHL’s Gagarin Cup in the league’s first playoffs in 2009, and again in 2010.  In recent years, Nikulin also became one of the KHL’s top-scoring defenders. His slapshot has infuriated numerous playoff opponents. Each year since 2006, Ilya has played for Russia at the World Championships. He was on the gold-winning teams of 2008, 2009, and 2012. Nikulin captained the 2012 and 2013 teams. He also played in the 2010 Olympics.

Club Stats:

Season Team GP G A PTS +/- PIM
1998-99 Dynamo-2 Moscow (RHL-3) 23 0 2 2 18
1999-00 THK Tver (RHL-2) 39 3 6 9 84
1999-00 Dynamo-2 Moscow (RHL-3) 4 2 1 3 10
2000-01 Dynamo-2 Moscow (RHL-3) 44 0 4 4 61
2001-02 Dynamo-2 Moscow (RHL-3) 2 0 1 1 2
2001-02 Dynamo Moscow 48 2 1 3 -3 44
2002-03 Dynamo Moscow 40 1 4 5 +13 46
2003-04 Dynamo Moscow 54 1 5 6 +6 56
2004-05 Dynamo Moscow 50 1 9 10 +9 65
2005-06 Ak Bars Kazan 49 9 11 20 +7 48
2006-07 Ak Bars Kazan 51 11 14 25 +15 99
2007-08 Ak Bars Kazan 57 3 15 18 +2 95
2008-09 Ak Bars Kazan 53 7 26 33 +22 72
2009-10 Ak Bars Kazan 49 6 27 33 -2 86
2010-11 Ak Bars Kazan 49 6 35 41 +14 56
2011-12 Ak Bars Kazan 51 9 15 26 +3 52
2012-13 Ak Bars Kazan 51 12 22 34 +19 46
Totals RSL/KHL Reg. Season 646 68 188 256 +99 826
Totals RSL/KHL Playoffs 120 16 32 48 157

National Team Stats:

Year Tournament GP G A PTS PIM
1999 World Juniors U18 7 0 1 1 0
2000 World Juniors U18 6 1 1 2 10
2006 World Championship 7 1 5 6 8
2007 World Championship 9 2 0 2 4
2008 World Championship 9 0 1 1 0
2009 World Championship 9 1 3 4 4
2010 Olympic Games 4 0 1 1 2
2010 World Championship 9 0 2 2 2
2011 World Championship 9 3 1 4 2
2012 World Championship 10 2 5 7 8
2013 World Championship 8 1 3 4 2
Totals U18 Level 13 1 2 3 10
Totals Senior Level 74 10 21 31 32

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Welcome to Russkiy Hockey! This website is dedicated to the most talented Russian hockey players who bring a different game to the NHL - a game of speed, creativity, and discipline. On this site you can find out about the careers and accomplishments of these athletes, as well as about the history of Russian hockey, the latest stats of Russian hockey players, and the national team's successes at international tournaments. Enjoy your visit!

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