Alexei Kovalev
Alex Kovalev cropped
Alexei Kovalev playing with the Ottawa Senators
Position Right wing
Shoots Left
6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
222 lb (101 kg)
Born February 24 1973 (1973-02-24) (age 47),
Togliatti, Russian SFSR,
Soviet Union
NHL Draft 15th overall, 1991
New York Rangers
Pro Career 1989 – 2013

Alexei Vyacheslavovich "Alex" Kovalev (Russian: Алексей Вячеславович Ковалёв, Russian pronunciation: [alʲɪkˈsʲɛj kəvɐ'lʲof]; born February 24, 1973) is a retired Russian professional ice hockey player. He played in the National Hockey League (NHL) for the Ottawa Senators, Montreal Canadiens, Pittsburgh Penguins (on two separate occasions), New York Rangers, with whom he was originally drafted and won a Stanley Cup in 1994 and the Florida Panthers playing over 1,300 NHL games over 18 seasons.

Playing careerEdit

Alexei Kovalev was drafted by the New York Rangers in the 1991 NHL Entry Draft, first round, 15th overall. He became the first Russian born player to be drafted in the first round in the history of the NHL. Best known for his stickhandling skills, dangling and wrist shot, he became an important part of the Rangers 1994 Stanley Cup run, finishing with the third-most points for New York in the playoffs. Kovalev, Alexander Karpovtsev, Sergei Nemchinov, and Sergei Zubov were the first Russians to have their names engraved on the Stanley Cup.[1] The Rangers' Stanley Cup win is one that's well remembered in Europe because of the first Russian names on the Stanley Cup, as MSG Network broadcaster Al Trautwig said in an essay for Garden of Dreams.[1]

During the 1994–95 NHL lockout, Kovalev returned to Russia to play for his hometown team Lada Togliatti, the defending International Hockey League champion from 1994. Kovalev scored 8 goals and 8 assists in 12 games. Kovalev occasionally stops in Tolyatti to give clinics at his old hockey school. He also participated in the Lada Tolyatti 30th anniversary game, and scored a hat trick for the Lada veterans team.

Just 14 games into the 1998–99 season, on November 25, 1998, he was traded, along with Harry York, to the Pittsburgh Penguins for Petr Nedvěd, Sean Pronger and Chris Tamer. While only putting up 46 points in 63 games with the Penguins, he managed a strong effort with 12 points in 10 postseason games. The next few seasons, he recorded two of his best seasons in the NHL with 76 and 95 points.

In a trade to mainly reduce their salary, Pittsburgh sent Kovalev back to the Rangers on February 10, 2003. He was sent, along with Dan LaCouture, Janne Laukkanen and Mike Wilson for Mikael Samuelsson, Rico Fata, Joel Bouchard, Richard Lintner and cash.

On March 13, 2004 he was traded to the Montreal Canadiens for Jozef Balej and a second round selection in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft. While only managing 3 points in 12 games in the regular season, Kovalev broke out in the 2004 playoffs, where he registered 6 goals and 10 points in 11 games for Montreal.

He spent the 2004–05 NHL lockout playing for Ak Bars Kazan, in the Russian Super League (RSL), where he registered 23 points in 35 games. Kovalev played for Russia in the 2005 World Championships in Austria, and was named the tournament's best forward.

As an unrestricted free agent, he re-signed with Montreal to a four-year contract, worth $4.5 million per year, on August 3, 2005, prior to the start of the 2005–06 NHL season. He scored his 300th career goal and recorded his 700th point on December 20, 2005 against Dominik Hašek in a 4–3 win against the Ottawa Senators.

In 2006, Warrior Sports signed Kovalev to endorse their hockey sticks. Warrior designed a custom shaft known as the AK27.

In 2007, Kovalev sparked controversy when he allegedly criticized his team, coaching staff and the Montreal media in an interview done with a Russian reporter in his native language. Though the reporter who conducted the interview later rescinded Kovalev's quotes, and the tape she used never surfaced, a majority of the fans and members of the media believe the criticism to have actually happened. This story was especially controversial due to the poor performance by Kovalev in the 2006–07 season, amassing only 18 goals, 29 assists for a total of 47 points.

During the 2007–08 season, Kovalev found a resurgence playing alongside linemates Andrei Kostitsyn and Tomáš Plekanec, amassing a total of 35 goals, 49 assists for a total of 84 points in 82 games. As of the season's completion, he stood at the 94th spot of the top 100 all-time NHL scorers.[2] Because of his inspired play, Kovalev was awarded the Canadiens' captaincy on two occasions during the season, replacing the injured Saku Koivu in his absence.

The following season, in 2008–09, Kovalev was named captain of the Eastern Conference at the 2009 NHL All-Star game in Montreal, and won Most Valuable Player honors as a result of his two goals, assist, and game-winning shootout goal.[3] Late in the season with the Canadiens, Kovalev scored his 100th goal with the club on March 31, 2009, against former teammate and Canadiens goaltender Cristobal Huet of the Chicago Blackhawks.[4] At the end of the week, he was named the NHL's first star for the week ending April 5 after scoring 2 goals and 7 assists, helping lead the Canadiens to 3 wins during that time.[5]

On July 6, 2009, Kovalev signed a two-year, $10 million contract with the Ottawa Senators as an unrestricted free agent.[6] On December 25, 2009, Kovalev was excluded from the roster for the Russian men's hockey team for the 2010 Winter Olympics, to the surprise of fellow countryman Evgeni Malkin.[7] On January 3, 2010, he scored a career-high 4 goals in a 7-4 win against the Philadelphia Flyers. [8] On November 22, 2010, Kovalev netted his sixth goal of the season, scoring his 1,000th point in his career, notching the goal at exactly 10:00 of the first period against the Los Angeles Kings.

On February 24, 2011, his 38th birthday, Kovalev waived his no-trade clause to be traded back to the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for a conditional 7th Round Draft Pick.[9] The pick would have been upgraded to the sixth round if the Penguins had reached the second round of the playoffs, which they did not. At the time of the trade, the Penguins were without twelve of their regulars, including Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

Kovalev's return to Pittsburgh was brief, as general manager Ray Shero announced on May 28, 2011, that he had no intention of re-signing the forward.[10]

Awards Edit

  • Won the Stanley Cup with the New York Rangers in 1994.
  • Named NHL Offensive Player of the Week for November 6–12, 2000; November 5–11, 2001.
  • Played in the NHL All-Star Game in 2001, 2003 and 2009.
  • Named NHL Player of the Month in February 2001.
  • Named the World Championship Best Forward in 2005.
  • Won the Molson Cup (monthly) in November 2005, November 2007, December 2007, January and February 2008.
  • Won the Molson Cup (season) in 2008.
  • Won The Hockey News' Saku Koivu Award (comeback player of the year) in 2008.
  • Named to the NHL Second All-Star Team in 2008.
  • Won the NHL All-Star Game MVP Award in 2009.
  • Named the NHL 1st Star of the Week for March 30–April 5, 2009.

Accomplishments Edit

  • First Russian player to be drafted in the first round.
  • First Russian player (along with Alexander Karpovtsev, Sergei Nemchinov, and Sergei Zubov) to have his name engraved on the Stanley Cup.
  • First Russian player to be a captain of an All-Star Team
  • Captain of the 2009 NHL Eastern All-Star team
  • Most Valuable Player of the 2009 NHL All-Star game
  • November 23, 2010, recorded 1,000th (and 1,001st) career point(s) against the LA Kings notching a goal and an assist.
  • Most NHL games played by a player born and trained in the former USSR (1,302).

Off the iceEdit

Kovalev is a licensed aircraft pilot. Alexei was referenced in the first episode of season four of the television series Alias when Michael Vaughn (played by Michael Vartan) attempted to deflect an enemy's suspicions by saying that he is often told he looks like Alexei Kovalev. He is married to Eugenia Kovalev.[11]


Kovalev is a prominent endorsee of Warrior Hockey, making use of their range of products as a trademark which includes his own signature stick, the AK27. Kovalev was also pictured on the cover of EA Sports' NHL 95 scoring a goal on Kirk McLean of the Vancouver Canucks in the 1994 Stanley Cup Finals. In March 2008, Kovalev released a two-disc DVD titled My Hockey Tips and Training Methods. He is donating 100 percent of the DVD sale profits to charities that promote cardiac care for children. At age 8, Kovalev himself was diagnosed with a heart disorder that prevented him from playing hockey for two years while he underwent treatment.

Career statisticsEdit

    Regular season   Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
1989–90HC Dynamo MoscowUSSR10000
1990–91HC Dynamo MoscowUSSR181234
1991–92HC Dynamo MoscowCIS331692520
1992–93New York RangersNHL6520183879
1992–93Binghamton RangersAHL1313112435935814
1993–94New York RangersNHL76233356154239122118
1994–95Lada TogliattiIHL12881649
1994–95New York RangersNHL481315283010471110
1995–96New York RangersNHL81243458981134714
1996–97New York RangersNHL4513223542
1997–98New York RangersNHL7323305344
1998–99New York RangersNHL1434712
1998–99Pittsburgh PenguinsNHL632026463710571214
1999–00Pittsburgh PenguinsNHL82264066941115610
2000–01Pittsburgh PenguinsNHL794451959618551016
2001–02Pittsburgh PenguinsNHL6732447680
2002–03Pittsburgh PenguinsNHL5427376450
2002–03New York RangersNHL241031320
2003–04New York RangersNHL6613294254
2003–04Montreal CanadiensNHL12123121164108
2004–05Ak Bars KazanRSL351012228040008
2005–06Montreal CanadiensNHL692342657664374
2006–07Montreal CanadiensNHL7318294778
2007–08Montreal CanadiensNHL82354984701256118
2008–09Montreal CanadiensNHL782639657442132
2009–10Ottawa SenatorsNHL7718314954
2010–11Ottawa SenatorsNHL5414132728
2010–11Pittsburgh PenguinsNHL2025716711210
RSL totals 99 35 31 66 153 4 0 0 0 8
NHL totals 1302 428 596 1024 1298 123 45 55 100 114

International playEdit

Medal record
Ice hockey
Competitor for Flag of Russia Russia
Winter Olympics
Bronze 2002 Salt Lake City
World Championships
Bronze 2005 Austria
Competitor for TOlympic flag Unified Team
Winter Olympics
Gold 1992 Albertville
World Junior Championship
Competitor for Flag of the CIS svg CIS
Gold 1992 Germany
European Junior Championship
Silver 1991
Silver 1990

Played for the Soviet Union in:

Played for the Unified Team (CIS) in:

Played for Russia in:

Year Team Event   GP G A Pts PIM
1990 USSR EJC 6 4 3 7 6
1991 USSR EJC 5 8 3 11 8
1992 CIS WJC 7 5 5 10 2
1992 CIS Oly 8 1 2 3 14
1992 Russia WC 6 0 1 1 0
1996 Russia WCH 5 2 1 3 8
1998 Russia WC 6 5 2 7 14
2002 Russia Oly 6 3 1 4 4
2004 Russia WCH 4 2 1 3 4
2005 Russia WC 9 3 4 7 16
2006 Russia Oly 8 4 2 6 4
Senior int'l totals 52 20 14 34 64


  • June 23, 1991- New York Rangers first-round draft choice (15th overall) in the NHL Entry Draft.


  • March 2, 2004- Traded by the New York Rangers to the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for Jozef Balej and Montreal's 2004 third-round draft choice.
  • July 6, 2009- Signed a two-year $9.95 million dollar deal with the Ottawa Senators.
  • February 24, 2011- Traded by the Ottawa Senators to the Pittsburgh Penguins for Pittsburgh's conditional 7th round draft pick in the 2011 NHL Draft.

See alsoEdit


  1. 1.0 1.1 Kalinsky, George (2004). Garden of Dreams. New York: Stewart, Tabori, & Chang. ISBN 1-58479-343-0. 
  2. Montreal Canadiens Stats
  3. "Kovalev, Thornton named All-Star team captains",, January 22, 2009. Retrieved on 2009-08-14. 
  4. Canadiens put away Blackhawks. CBC (2009-03-31). Retrieved on 2009-04-06.
  5. Kovalev named NHL 1st star of the week. CBC (2009-04-06). Retrieved on 2009-04-06.
  6. KOVALEV SIGNS TWO-YEAR DEAL WITH SENATORS. The Sports Network (2009-07-06). Retrieved on 2009-07-06.
  7. Scaringi, Joe, "From Russia with Love", 10 February 2010, accessed 21 June 2010.
  8. Senators 7, Flyers 4. Associated Press (2010-01-04). Retrieved on 2010-01-04.

External linksEdit

Preceded by
Michael Stewart
New York Rangers first round draft pick
Succeeded by
Peter Ferraro

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