Following a different path

Nikita Krivokrasov, shown here in action against the Saskatoon Blades on Sept. 3, is attempting to follow his father Sergei into the NHL. -- Herald photo by Jason Kerr.

Every so often Nikita Krivokrasov has to field questions about where he’s from.

Moscow? St. Petersburg? Yekaterinburg? Kazan? Nope. Try Westminister, Col., a suburb located just north of Denver.

“There have always been questions,” the 16-year-old winger said. “I’m sure the clarification’s there that I’m from Colorado. It doesn’t matter where you’re from, as long as you’re playing well.”

Part of the confusion comes from his father, Sergei, who was born in Angarsk, Russia in 1974. The elder Krivokrasov played two seasons for Russian club CSKA Moscow before being drafted 12th overall by the Chicago Blackhawks in the 1992 NHL Entry Draft.

Sergei scored 86 goals and 195 points over 10 NHL seasons while representing the Nashville Predators at the 1999 NHL all-star game, and winning a silver medal at the 1998 Winter Olympics.

Unlike his father, who honed his skills with junior squads in the Soviet Union, Nikita developed his game with the Rocky Mountain Roughriders, an under-16 club in Colorado.

“There’s a big difference of course,” he explained.

“Russians are more skilled guys who don’t like to bang around. I’ve got experiences from both countries, and I think that’s why my game has really developed. I know how to bang around and I know how to put the puck in the net every once in a while.”

“Obviously my dad and I had different (first) steps towards hockey,” he added. “I’m just trying to learn everything I can from him and take in as much as I can so I can play this game.”

For Nikita, those first steps continue in Prince Albert. Krivokrasov signed a standard player agreement with the Raiders after attending training camp in 2016. As an undrafted player, his position on the roster was far from a sure thing, but he impressed the Raider brass enough to earn a second look.

He dressed for his first two WHL games at the end of the 2016-17 season, an experience he’s more than thankful for.

“Of course, learning from the older guys, the 20-year-olds, really helped me out. Everyone was really good to me. Getting those games really helped.”

As a 16-year old who will turn 17 in December, the young winger’s chances of getting a roster spot are a lot better than one year ago. Regardless of what happens, he’s focused on building on that solid start in the year ahead.

“Of course, number one is to make the team,” he said when asked about his future goals. “Take it step by step. That’s all I’m looking for. I don’t have, really, too many expectations. I just really want to contribute to this team, play every game I can and be consistent.”

Krivokrasov had his first chance to contribute on Sept. 3, with a first period goal on a dump-in from the blue line. It wasn’t the prettiest goal, but the Colorado product isn’t complaining.

“It’s a goal on the score sheet and that’s all that matters.”