Photo Credit: courtesy VHL

Flames prospect Ilya Nikolaev named USHL’s Forward of the Week

For his efforts in his team’s playoff sweep this past weekend, Calgary Flames prospect Ilya Nikolaev has earned a league award. The Tri-City Storm forward has been named the United States Hockey League’s Forward of the Week.

Here’s the league’s release:

Ilya Nikolaev, 20, of Yaroslavl, Russia, was the only Storm player to net multiple goals during the team’s two-game sweep of the Omaha Lancers in the 2022 Western Conference Semifinals. He netted two goals and notched two assists during Tri-City’s 7-4 win over Omaha in Game #1 of the series at the Viaero Center. He also finished the game with a plus/minus rating of +4. Nikolaev was named the 1st Star of the Game in Tri-City’s opening playoff victory. Nikolaev scored the opening two goals of Game #2 of the 2022 Western Conference Semifinals on Sunday. He finished the game with a plus/minus rating of +2. Nikolaev scored four goals and recorded two assists through the Storm’s opening round of the postseason. He finished the weekend with a plus/minus rating of +6. He is tied with linemate Cole O’Hara for the most points recorded by a Storm player this postseason (6). Nikolaev scored twenty-three goals and notched forty-nine assists during the regular season. He was one of four Storm players who recorded more than one point per game (1.24) during the regular season. Nikolaev was selected 88th overall in the 3rd round of the 2019 NHL Draft by the Calgary Flames.

Playing his first season in North American hockey after bouncing between Russian minor-pro and junior hockey for a couple seasons, Nikolaev has been a key supporting player in the regular season for the USHL’s best team. But this weekend, he was the guy for the Storm, scoring four goals across two games and really impacting the game positively.

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Nikolaev’s aging out of junior this season, and more weekends like this will make the Flames strongly consider offering him a pro contract for next season – whether it’s an NHL or AHL deal is probably still yet to be decided.