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11-30-2004, 10:35 PM
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I didn't realize everyone would get so angry about the overall Kovalev package comparison. I was trying to compare Balej to one dimension of Kovalev's game: a seemingly inexplicable dearth of finishing ability.

I like Balej's speed, creativity, attitude, puckhandling. I am growing wary of a smaller player who gets hit way too often (he always seems to be crunched against the boards...), doesn't have an overpowering shot and hasn't finished with much consistency since the first half of last season in the AHL.

It seems to me (and I hope that he proves me wrong), that we drank some of the Kool Aid when we got him, and now we see why he's a second line winger at best. I'm beginning to think he's a stop-gap solution to Korpikoski/Prucha (a boy can dream). Clearly, he is one of our better wing prospects currently but I don't see him being a mainstay unless something turns around.

And for those who complain he isn't playing with a top-flight center: isn't Hartford a sign of things to come for the Rangers? Defense first mentality with opportunistic scoring? He should thrive in that with his speed and puckhandling, along with the other quick players on his line. If he is depending on passes into the slot or cycling, he's in trouble with his size and tendancy to get checked.

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