Akim Aliu (born April 24, 1989) is a Canadian professional ice hockey player currently playing with the Cleveland Monsters of the American Hockey League (AHL) on loan from the ECHL with the Atlanta Gladiators. Aliu was a second round selection of the Chicago Blackhawks, 56th overall, in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft and has played for several AHL and ECHL teams in both the Blackhawks and Atlanta Thrashers/Winnipeg Jets organizations before a trade to the Calgary Flames. Aliu made his NHL debut on April 5, 2012.
Aliu was born in Okene, Nigeria, but grew up in Kyiv, Ukraine. His father, Tai, a Nigerian, attended university in Kyiv on a track and field scholarship where he met and married Aliu's mother, Larissa, a Ukrainian. He has a brother, Edward. Aliu considers himself Ukrainian Canadian and attests that he and his family live according to Ukrainian culture; and that he would have played for the Ukrainian national hockey team, if asked. Aliu still speaks Ukrainian to his family.
Uncomfortable with the political climate following the demise of the Soviet Union, Aliu's parents moved the family to Canada when he was 7 and settled in the Toronto area. The family initially struggled while Tai studied to become a computer programmer.
Arriving in Canada, Aliu spoke fluent Ukrainian and Russian but no English and had never played hockey. His first pair of skates were purchased at a garage sale and he began playing in a house league in the Toronto neighbourhood of Parkdale. He had a natural talent for the game and within a few years was drafted into the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) in the first round by the Windsor Spitfires.