Pavel Valentenko

Valentenko Has A Nose For Hockey

In a little over forty hours, the NHL will drop the puck on their 93rd season as Carolina and Minnesota square get the season underway in Helsinki. The Rangers will follow suit a couple of days later when they open up in Buffalo against the Sabres.

The subject of this Rangers Countdown Profile won’t be in Buffalo, but will instead line-up for Hartford on Saturday, but Pavel Valentenko hopes that will be only a temporary situation.

Player Profile
Valentenko was acquired along with Ryan McDonagh, in the June 30th, 2009 trade that sent Scott Gomez to Montreal. At the time he had two years remaining on his NHL contract, but had elected to return to his native Russia to play for Moscow Dynamo of the KHL.

You could have been forgiven if you considered his inclusion in the trade as simply a throw-in.

Electing to come to Rangers training camp this season to give the NHL another shot, the 6-2, 220lb defenseman has quickly caught the eye, not only of fans, but also of the coaching staff.

One of the last two players to be cut before the roster was finalized, Valentenko will spend the start of the season with the Hartford Wolf Pack, biding his time and getting some game time in after playing in just 19 games over the past two seasons.

A combination of injuries and experienced bodies in front of him, have kept the 22 year old Russian from suiting up on a regular basis.

He’s still a relatively raw player, but is not afraid to use his body in his role as a defender, and possesses a slapshot from the point that would rival anything the current Rangers have. Both are redeeming qualities, and no doubt are part of the reason he’s caught everyone’s attention.

If he can add some poise and confidence in his decision making, the Rangers may very well have gotten an important addition to the blueline. There’s still no guarantee that he’ll be able to make the transition, but his performances in the preseason show that he has most of the fundamentals and just needs a little polishing.

2009-10 Statistics
Team: Moscow Dynamo (KHL)
Stats: 0 goals, 0 assists and 2 penalty minutes in 7 games

Team: Hartford Wolf Pack (AHL)
Stats: 4 goals, 12 assists and 84 penalty minutes in 64 games

Team: New York Rangers (NHL)
Stats: 0 goals, 0 assists and 8 penalty minutes in 5 games

Valentenko had intended on playing in Russia this season with Moscow Dynamo, but the club folded and as a result his second contract year was voided.

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