New York Rangers President, General Manager and Head Coach Glen Sather announced today that the club has agreed to terms with restricted free agent forward Alex Kovalev. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
"Alex Kovalev is one of the premiere players in the National Hockey League," said Sather. "His combination of size, strength and skill allows him the ability to dominate a game like few others and we are confident that he will be a large part of the team's success this year."
Kovalev, 30, appeared in 78 games with the Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins last season, registering 37 goals and 40 assists for 77 points, along with 70 penalty minutes. He finished the season tied for eighth in the NHL with 37 goals and tied for 19th with 77 points. Kovalev collected 10 goals and three assists for 13 points, along with 20 penalty minutes in 24 contests with New York after being acquired from Pittsburgh on February 10, along with Janne Laukkanen, Dan LaCouture and Mike Wilson in exchange for Joel Bouchard, Rico Fata, Mikael Samuelsson and Richard Lintner. Prior to the trade, he ranked second in scoring on the Penguins with 27 goals and 37 assists for 64 points in 54 matches. Kovalev made his second career appearance in the NHL All-Star Game, his first as a starter, on February 2 in Sunrise, Florida.
"As I said when I returned to the Rangers last season, I am happy to be back in New York with such a great organization," stated Kovalev. "I am committed to playing a major role, along with so many talented teammates, in a successful season for the Rangers and our fans."
A veteran of 11 NHL seasons with the Rangers and Penguins, Kovalev has appeared in 771 career NHL games, registering 278 goals and 357 assists for 635 points, along with 836 penalty minutes. He has appeared in 83 career playoff games, registering 27 goals and 40 assists for 67 points, along with 82 penalty minutes. Kovalev was traded to Pittsburgh from New York, along with Harry York, in exchange for Petr Nedved, Chris Tamer and Sean Pronger on November 25, 1998.
In his first stint with the Rangers from 1992-1998, Kovalev registered 119 goals and 156 assists for 275 points, along with 459 penalty minutes in 402 matches. He appeared in 44 career post-season contests, tallying 16 goals and 23 assists for 39 points, along with 42 penalty minutes and was a key member of the 1994 Stanley Cup Championship team. He was one of the first Russian-born players to have his name inscribed on the Stanley Cup. In 23 playoff games, Kovalev registered nine goals and 12 assists for 21 points, along with 18 penalty minutes. His 21 points ranked third on the team, while his nine goals and 12 assists ranked fourth.
The 6-1, 220-pound right wing has skated in numerous international tournaments, including a pair of Winter Olympic appearances. In 1992, he helped the Unified Team capture the gold medal in Albertville, France. He also garnered a bronze medal for Russia at the 2002 games in Salt Lake City, Utah, registering three goals and one assist for four points in six games.
He appeared in five matches for Russia at the 1996 World Cup and has twice skated in the IIHF World Hockey Championships (1992, 1998). Kovalev also won two silver medals with the Soviet team at the European Junior Championships in 1990 and 1991 and captured a gold medal at the 1992 World Junior Championships as a member of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), while being named to the tournament's All-Star team.
The Togliatti, Russia native was originally the Rangers' first round choice, 15th overall, in the 1991 NHL Entry Draft.