[NHL] Alexei Kovalev traded to Montreal

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Canadiens obtain Kovalev from Rangers

Canadian Press


MONTREAL (CP-AP) - The Montreal Canadiens added some much needed scoring help to their lineup Tuesday night by acquiring winger Alexei Kovalev from the New York Rangers.

In return, the Canadiens sent prospect Josef Balej and a 2004 second-round pick to the Rangers, who are on their way to a seventh straight season out of the playoffs.

Montreal, meanwhile, is currently seventh in the Eastern Conference with 76 points, 11 points up on Florida for the final playoff spot.

``Our team has shown perseverance and strength throughout this season,'' Canadiens general manager Bob Gainey said in a release. ``The opportunity to support the pursuit of our goal of making the playoffs by acquiring a veteran NHL player was presented to us and we have taken on that opportunity.''

Kovalev is earning $6.6 million US this year and will become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, so his stay in Montreal may be short.

The Canadiens hope it will be long enough to take them deep into the playoffs. Team president Pierre Boivin announced last week that Montreal must reach the third round of the post-season to break even this year.

In Kovalev, Montreal gets a potent forward who has scored 30 or more goals each of the last three seasons. The 32-year-old is also a veteran who won a Stanley Cup with the Rangers in 1994.

This season, he has 13 goals and 42 points in 66 games.

``I expected that they were going to trade me,'' Kovalev said. ``They talked about it a lot, rumours have been around for a while about most of the guys.

``I knew that eventually I was going to go somewhere, so I was ready for that. I tried to still play for this organization. You can't just stop playing, so I kept working hard. Now I am just going to another team to do my best.''

Balej, 22, was selected in the third round of the 2000 draft by the Canadiens. He leads the Hamilton Bulldogs - Montreal's American Hockey League affiliate - in every offensive category this year, scoring 25 goals and 58 points in 55 games.

The trade was Gainey's first since taking over the general manager's job in Montreal last summer. It also marks the start of what is expected to be a busy week in New York, as the struggling Rangers try and offload some of their high-priced players before the March 9 trading deadline.

New York general manager Glen Sather announced last week when he gave up his coaching duties that changes were about to take place.

It was the second time Kovalev was traded away by the Rangers. He was reacquired by New York from Pittsburgh on Feb. 10, 2003, after scoring 149 goals in parts of five seasons with the Penguins, playing much of the time with Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr.

However, he had just 23 goals and 32 assists in 90 games during his second stay in New York.

``He's a good player, but for whatever reason - whether it was the chemistry or the mix - it just didn't work,'' Rangers assistant GM Don Maloney said.

Kovalev couldn't apply his scoring touch with the Rangers, the team with which he spent his first six-plus seasons.

``I have to do better than I did before,'' Kovalev said after New York's 4-3 loss Tuesday night to Atlanta. ``I came in and I was happy, and I wish I could have done better with this organization. But I guess it didn't work for me.

``Right now I don't want to hurt a team anymore and I guess it's just time for me to move.''

In 837 career games with the Rangers and Penguins, Kovalev has scored 291 goals and 677 points.


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Penguins really lost out by losing him, hopefully they can start rebuilding their team (if they don't leave town because they don't get a new Arena).

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so much for the rangers.. i love watching them fail year after year.. thats one great thing about hockey, you cant just buy a championship

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Well the rangers lost again tonight and Kovalev was playing like the ###### that he is. He had like 4 minor penalties. :huh:

See ya later boy.

Lets Go Islanders! :D

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OMG!!! i thought the habs would never do a big trade like this!! this is incredible news for any montreal fan. Hopefully he stays longer than the end of this season

Edited by bayrider
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Big trade? Kovelev will be the reason that you guys now will miss the playoffs.....

he's a hasbeen don't count on him.

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OMG!!! i thought the habs would never do a big trade like this!! this is incredible news for any montreal fan. Hopefully he stays longer than the end of this season

It's a surprisingly gutsy move by Montreal and it came from off the radar.

Kovalev is 6'1" 220 pounds so at least he isn't another small scoring forward.

Still he won't add a lot of toughness if Monteal were to get a first round match against Philly (or Boston or Toronto).

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