2005-06: After dominating the Tier II GTHL with the Toronto Marlboros in 2004-05, Akim Aliu split his first season in the OHL between Windsor and Sudbury. In 18 games with the Spitfires, he score 3 goals with 4 assists and 25 PIM. A mid-season altercation with then-teammate Steve Downie contributed him being traded to Sudbury where he scored 7 goals with 6 assists racking up 54 PIM and a plus/minus rating of -2. In six playoff games for the Wolves, he had 1 assist and 7 PIM.
2006-07: Aliu had a breakout season with Sudbury in his second OHL season. In 53 regular season games, he scored 20 goals with 22 assists. With a deadly wrist shot and a frame that made him difficult for smaller defenders to displace, he was deadly on the power play, scoring nine times. On the down side, his lack of self-control led to unnecessary penalties at times. While penalties were nothing new (Aliu had 197 minutes with the Marlboros in 2004-05), a conflict with Sudbury coach Mike Foligno over the issue led to him being sent home late in the season. Aliu returned to the Wolves in the playoffs but in a third line role had 1 goal and 5 assists in 21 games with 50 PIM and was -4. Despite these issues, Aliu's size and potential appealed to Chicago, who selected him in the second round (56th overall) of the NHL entry draft.
2007-08: Aliu, with London after an off-season trade from Sudbury, wasted no time in making his presence felt both on the scoreboard and in the sin bin. In 60 games with the Knights, Aliu scored 28 goals with 33 assists while taking 133 minutes in penalties. Both his point and penalty totals easily surpassed his output with Windsor and Sudbury the previous two years. In addition to his offensive exploits, Aliue was given the opportunity to grow in all phases of the game by Knights coach Dale Hunter – even spending extensive time as a defenseman – particularly later in the season. In five playoff games with the Knights, Aliu scored 2 goals with 1 assist and was -4. He also had 15 PIM. Aliu made his AHL debut following the OHL playoffs appearing in two regular season games for the Black Hawk's Rockford affiliate.
2008-09: Aliu attended camp with the Black Hawks before being assigned to Rockford and ultimately being returned to juniors. A lingering training camp injury and then a five-game suspension marred the beginning of his final junior season. After getting things on track with London he was re-acquired by Foligno and Sudbury in a mid-season trade. In 45 OHL regular season games, he scored 18 goals with 26 assists and 91 PIM. He was also a -10. In six playoff games with Sudbury, he scored 2 goals with 1 assist. In five AHL regular season games with Rockford he scored two goals and he added another tally in his lone playoff game.
2009-10: Aliu's first pro season was split between Rockford in the AHL and Chicago's ECHL affiliate the Toledo Walleye. In 48 AHL games, Aliu scored 11 goals with 6 assists and was a -2. With the Walleye, with whom he finished the season, Aliu had 5 goals and 9 assists in 14 games with a plus/minus rating of -12. In the ECHL playoffs, Aliu dressed for two of Toledo's four playoff games and had 1 goal and 1 assist with 16 PIM. In June Atlanta obtained the rights to Aliu in the eight player trade that sent Dustin Byfuglien and Ben Eager and others to Atlanta for three players as well as 1st and 2nd round draft picks.
2010-11: Fast disappearing into obscurity, Aliu has little time left to prove he is a legitimate prospect. With just 4 goals in 43 games for the AHL’s Chicago Wolves, and an indifferent attitude, Aliu was reassigned to the ECHL for the remainder of the season. His 12 goals in 16 games at the ECHL level provided a spark of hope, however he was again listless through Jets preseason and reassigned to the ECHL again to start the year.
2010-11: Acquired from Chicago by the Jets in a June 2010 trade, Aliu attended camp with Winnipeg before being assigned to the AHL Chicago Wolves. Aliu struggled in his second AHL season with the Wolves, and was loaned to AHL Peoria as well as playing for the Jets' ECHL affiliate Gwinnett. He scored 4 goals with 5 assists and was minus-4 with 53 penalty minutes in 43 games for the Wolves. After his 16-game stint in the ECHL with Gwinnett, Aliu skated in 16 games on loan to Peoria and was plus-3 with 4 goals and 9 assists and had 20 penalty minutes. In two playoff games with the Rivermen he was minus-two with 1 goal and 6 penalty minutes. Aliu scored 12 goals (nine on the power play) with 8 assists an was minus-eight with 22 penalty minutes while skating in the ECHL with the Gladiators.
2011-12: Aliu made his NHL debut, playing two games with the Flames, to cap an eventful third pro season. He had an assist in his first game against Vancouver on April 5th and scored a pair of goals two night later in a 5-2 win over Anaheim; drawing a third period misconduct penalty along with Ducks' heavyweight George Parros. Aliu started the year in the ECHL with Colorado after going to the Jets camp. He played ten games for the Eagles then headed to Europe to play for Austria's EC Salzburg in the 2011 Red Bulls Salute. Calgary acquired Aliu's rights from the Jets in a January trade and Aliu joined the Flames' AHL affiliate Abbotsford before being recalled in April. He scored 10 goals with 4 assists in 42 games and was minus-13 with 59 penalty minutes. In five AHL playoff games he had 1 assist and was an even plus/minus with 28 penalty minutes. Aliu scored 2 goals with 4 assists and was minus-one with 28 penalty minutes for the Eagles and scored the game-winning goal for EC Salzburg against Finland's Jokerit in the championship game of the Red Bulls Salute tournament. Aliu was signed to a one-year contract by Calgary in July, 2012.
Aliu has all the characteristics of your prototypical power forward - he is big and strong, has a devastating wrist shot with a lightning quick release and recognizes offensive opportunities. Aliu's straight-leg skating style does not allow him to change direction as quickly as required – causing him to be out of the play at times. His situational awareness is another area that needs to be addressed – sometimes getting caught up in individual battles rather than focusing on strategic play. Aliu was often able to get by on his physical advantages at the junior level.
Aliu owns all of the necessary skills to be a prolific power forward but has to show better discipline if his potential is going to be realized. The challenge will be to have the patience and dedication and put in the work necessary to best utilize those tools.
Aliu will compete to stay in the Abbotsford heat line-up with the NHL lockout still unsettled. The big physical forward is hoping to get another chance to play in the NHL with the Flames after a good performance in Calgary at the end of last season.