MONTREAL - Canadiens GM Bob Gainey announced Wednesday the signing of free agents Alex Kovalev andMathieu Dandenault to four-year contracts through the 2008-09 season. Terms of the agreements were not disclosed.
Kovalev, a 32-year-old right winger, is no stranger to Montreal having been acquired on March 2, 2004 just prior to the trading deadline from the New York Rangers in exchange for winger Jozef Balej and the Canadiens' second pick in the 2004 draft. Kovalev played a key role in the playoffs, recording 10 points in 11 games, including a team-leading six goals on a line with team captain Saku Koivu and Richard Zednik.
Following the 2004 World Cup of Hockey where Kovalev had three points in four games for Team Russia, the 6-foot-1, 220-pounder signed on with Ak Bars Kazan of the Russian Super League during the NHL lockout, where he would go on to register 10 goals and 12 assists in 35 games. Kovalev then once again answered the call of home country for the World Hockey Championships in Austria where he put up six points in nine games and was named the tournament's top forward.
Selected 15th overall by the Rangers in 1991, the native of Togliatti, Russia won the Stanley Cup with the New York Rangers in 1994. Kovalev is a two-time NHL all-star (2001 and 2003) and represented Russia at both the 1992 and 2002 Olympics. Over his 12-year NHL career with Pittsburgh, New York and the Canadiens, Kovalev has 680 points including 292 goals and 388 assists in 849 regular season games. In 94 career playoff contests, Kovalev has 77 points with 33 goals and 44 assists.
Dandenault, a 29-year-old defenseman/right winger, had spent his entire 10-year NHL career with the Detroit Red Wings where he won three Stanley Cups (1997, 1998 and 2002). Drafted 49th overall by the Red Wings in 1994, the Sherbrooke, Que., native had 12 points in 65 games with Detroit in 2003-04. Dandenault also helped Canada win a gold medal at the 2003 World Hockey Championships. In 616 career regular season games, Dandenault has 149 points, including 48 goals as well as eight points in 64 career postseason contests.