Canadiens Obtain Kovalev from Rangers
New York Rangers President and General Manager Glen Sather announced
today that the club has acquired forward Josef Balej and a second
round selection in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft from the Montreal
Canadiens in exchange for right wing Alex Kovalev.
Balej, 22, has skated in 55 games this season for the Hamilton
Bulldogs of the American Hockey League (AHL), registering 25 goals
and 33 assists for 58 points, along with 32 penalty minutes. He led
the Bulldogs in every offensive category, while also ranking first on
the club with a plus-19 rating. Balej is currently tied for third
overall in the AHL with 25 tallies and is tied for fifth in scoring
with 58 points. He was also selected as a member of the PlanetUSA
squad at the 2004 AHL All-Star Classic on February 9.
The 6-1, 191-pounder has appeared in 94 career AHL contests with
Hamilton, registering 42 goals and 49 assists for 91 points, along
with 66 penalty minutes.
Prior to turning professional, Balej spent three seasons (1999-2002)
with the Portland Winter Hawks of the Western Hockey League (WHL). In
176 career matches with Portland (WHL), Balej tallied 105 goals and
85 assists for 190 points, along with 103 penalty minutes. In his
final season in 2002, he collected 51 goals and 41 assists for 92
points in 65 matches and was named to the WHL West First All-Star
The native of Myjava, Slovakia was originally Montreals third round
selection, 78th overall, in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft.
Kovalev, 32, has appeared in 66 games for the Rangers this season,
registering 13 goals and 29 assists for 42 points, along with 50
penalty minutes. In 492 career matches with New York, Kovalev tallied
142 goals and 188 assists for 330 points, along with 533 penalty