Top prospect Nikolai Kovalenko signed a two-year, entry-level contract with the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday. While now a member of the NHL team, the 23-year-old player will continue to play for Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod the Kontinental Hockey League until the end of the 2023-24 season.
From 2015 until 2019, Kovalenko played in the MHL, Russia’s junior league, grabbing 17 goals and 33 assists in 72 appearances. During this period, the rising star helped Yaroslavl to win back-to-back MHL Championships. He was then selected as the sixth overall pick in the 2018 NHL draft by Colorado.
Last season proved to be Kovalenko’s breakthrough, with the right-wing achieving career-highs in goals (21), assists (33), points (54) and games played (56).
Kovalenko is the son of former NHL player Andrei Kovalenko, who played for the Carolina Hurricanes when Nikolai was born in Raliegh, North Carolina, in 1999. He was subsequently raised in Russia.