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Colorado Avalanche draft pick Nikolai Kovalenko signs extension with HC Locomotivi of the KHL

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The 18-year-old son of a former NHLer will have three seasons to learn and develop before (hopefully) coming to North America

2018 NHL Draft - Portraits
Nikolai Kovalenko poses after being selected 171st by the Colorado Avalanche during the 2018 NHL Draft at American Airlines Center on June 23, 2018 in Dallas, Texas.
Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

The flashy sixth-round pick by the Colorado Avalanche in 2018 has signed for three more seasons with Locomotiv Hockey Club of the KHL. Nikolai Kovalenko has spent the last four seasons (that we know of) in the Locomotiv organization playing for their U16, U17, MHL, and KHL squads. In two games in the KHL, Kovalenko did not register a point. The KHL is notorious for not playing young players, and even if they are forced to dress a kid, they will just make them sit the entire match.

In his age-18 season, Kovalenko spent the majority of his season (33 games) with Locomotiv’s junior team Loko Yaroslavl of the MHL and nearly scored at a point per game pace (10 goals, 21 assists, 31 points). Oh, did I mention that squad won the MHL Championship? 12 points in 13 games was good for sixth in team playoff scoring.

But that was Loko’s story all season: few all-world stars, but somebody always stepping up when needed. Vladislav Rybakov (16 gp, 7-6-13) and Denis Alexeyev (17 gp, 5-8-13) were the champions’ joint leading scorers in the playoffs, while Nikolai Kovalenko also made a significant contribution (13 gp, 1-11-12). If we had to pick one star of the team, however, it would likely be goalie Ilya Konovalov, who put up a .945 sv% in 16 playoff games (and .936 in the Final). The MHL duly acknowledged his strong play, giving Konovalov the post-season MVP award. - Conway’s Russian Hockey Blog

Kovalenko is a left-handed right winger and the son of former Quebec Nordique and Av Andrei Kovalenko. Nikolai was born in Raleigh, North Carolina while Andrei played in his second of two seasons with the Carolina Hurricanes.

Kovalenko is a small but talented puck-handler who isn’t afraid to play all kinds of roles on the team. He has a strong understanding of the game and what scouts call “Hockey IQ”.

At 5’10, 170 Kovalenko is a left-shooting right winger that has great hands and is able to make plays through traffic. He’s a puck-handler that has great awareness on the ice and the stickhandling ability to maintain possession for his team. He was also used as a penalty killer this past season.