Name: Akim Aliu
Drafted: 2007 2nd round (56th overall) by Chicago
First off, I’m not sure how you can’t love a guy who is named Akim Aliu and has that kind of hair going for him. Secondly, he was born in Nigeria, which is awesome. Only one player born in Nigeria has ever played in the NHL: Rumun Ndur played 69 games from 1997-2000 with the Sabres, Rangers and Thrashers.
On the ice, Aliu has all the physical tools. He is a good skater, a big kid (6’3″, 205 lbs) and is incredibly strong. He has all the potential in the world to be a power forward who can either get to the net with the puck or can stand in front of the net much in the way Dustin Byfuglien famously did
against Roberto Luongo in the playoffs while he was still with Chicago.
To look at Aliu’s AHL stats (10 G, 18 P) after reading the above description, you might wonder why he is ranked 7th and not much higher. The answer, unfortunately, is some stuff that might not be able to be improved on: his hockey sense has been described as basically nil, and he doesn’t have a consistent level of effort. Whether you call it immaturity or a lack of smarts, it has extended off the ice as well: Aliu broke his hand in a bar fight in Toronto in 2010, and was involved in numerous altercations with teammates in Chicago.
Though, if we are going to point out the negatives of his personality, it’s only fair to point out the positives: he also famously got into a fight with Steve Downie in his OHL days for refusing to take part in a hazing incident.
Aliu has a pretty low floor, and might not ever be an NHL guy. But his ceiling is pretty high and could be a contributor if he ends up putting it all together (especially at right wing), which is what leads me to put him at 7.