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09-19-2008, 09:23 AM
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From Sharp at

With a big assist to rookie Kaspars Daugavins, I had a good talk with Alexander Nikulin on Thursday after his practice session. And for those B-Sens fans asking if Nikulin would report to Binghamton or return to Russia should he not make the big club out of camp, he addressed the issue.

"He's thinking about the first thing right now ... make Ottawa," said Daugavins, translating for Nikulin. "He's thinking about making Ottawa. His point is to stay here and work hard, because he thinks he ... learned North American hockey. But if something happens and they send him down, he will be going there and (working hard). And he will work on his bad things, like whatever they will say, to get here."

Like fellow Russian Ilya Zubov, Nikulin spent the summer trying to get stronger and continue his adjustment to a new style of game.

"He said his confidence went way up, because last year was kind of the first year to get used to North American hockey, the practice level, and all the guys. Learn a little bit of language. So, this is kind of easier for him. And even in the summer, he gained all the physical game, and he was working out a lot, so his testing went up. And ... he said he needed to play at least one year in the American League to get used to this hockey, not right away to NHL, because that would be maybe, he would lose the confidence if he was playing right away there."

As for how camp is going so far?

"He feels really great."

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