Rangers Win Kovalev Sweepstakes

The cash-strapped Pittsburgh Penguins traded All-Star forward Alexei Kovalev to the New York Rangers in an eight-player deal designed to help alleviate the Penguins' financial woes. Kovalev was sent to the Rangers despite rumors that a deal had been agreed upon between Pittsburgh and the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The deal sees the Penguins acquire forwards Mikael Samuelsson and Rico Fata, defensemen Joel Bouchard and Richard Lintner, and $4 million. In return, the Rangers get Kovalev, forward Dan LaCouture, and defensemen Janne Laukkanen and Mike Wilson.

Kovalev will be making his second tour of duty with the Rangers. He was traded to the Penguins from New York during the 1998-99 season. Kovalev has twenty-seven goals and thirty-seven assists in fifty-four games with Pittsburgh this season.

Samuelsson is the only regular sent to Pittsburgh in the deal. He has eight goals and fourteen assists in fifty-eight games for the Rangers this season.

Fata has two goals and four assists in thirty-six games and Bouchard had five goals and seven assists in twenty-seven games. Litner has spent most of the season with the AHL's Hartford Wolf Pack.

LaCouture has scored two goals and added two assists in forty-four games this season, while Laukannen has just one goal and seven assists in seventeen games played. Wilson has scored once and assisted once in seventeen games.

Kovalev is eligible for salary arbitration after this season and would most-likely have been awarded a salary that the Penguins could not afford.

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