Photo: Sov Sport
Wednesday, Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin received his seventh Kharlamov Trophy as the most valuable Russian player in the National Hockey League. The award, named after the Soviet ice hockey player Valeri Kharlamov, is voted on by all active Russians playing in the NHL.
While taking part in a press conference afterwards, Ovechkin was asked about the report that Russian defenseman Ilya Nikulin – the Russian machine’s best friend – was in talks with the Washington Capitals.
“I spoke with Nikulin recently,” Ovechkin told R-Sport, as translated by Igor Kleyner. “There is no clarity in what he told me. He has his agents, they are tasked with finding him a contract. I think Nikulin is a quality defenseman, he’ll play well everywhere.”
He then added, “If I am asked, I’ll give my opinion. I’ll only be very happy if [the Capitals] sign Nikulin.”
On Friday, Alex Rogulev of R-Sport broke the news:
NHL club Washington Capitals are conducting contract negotiations with ex-Ak Bars Kazan defenseman Ilya Nikulin, according to a source familiar with negotiations.
In May it became known that Ak Bars and Nikulin are not extending the contract after the player’s 10-year stay in Kazan. The 33-year-old defenseman is now an unrestricted free agent. It was reported earlier that Nikulin is counting on continuing his career in the NHL, although the player himself refused to confirm that.
According to the agency’s source, the club that is negotiating with representatives of Nikulin is Washington. The player himself declined to confirm this information. “Right now I am not comfortable talking. Call me next week.”
If signed, Nikulin could potentially serve as the Caps’ seventh defenseman and a mentor to Dmitry Orlov. Plus with Orlov and Nate Schmidt both slated to get big minutes and full-time roster spots, Nikulin could be a talented fall-back option if one of those young players struggles.
Plus, who wouldn’t want Ovi “very happy?”
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
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