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03-03-2004, 01:26 AM
Kirk Muller
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Definitely a surprising deal, everyone had O'Neill on the radar screen, but I guess we can't be right all the time.

Like a lot of people, I like Balej skill, that was never in question. But I truly question if his body can handle the NHL. He is not strong, and not very big, and that is a tough combination when playing Pro hockey. He has a great skill set, but that is a major worry imo.

Kovalev adds to the now without killing the future. Montreal has Plekanec, Higgins, Perezhogin, Hossa and Kastsityn all projected as top two line players. Factor in Ryder at 23 (?) and Ribeiro at 24 and you have a lot of very young offensive minded players, then you factor in Koivu and Zednik. Balej simply isn't as high on the depth chart and he is too much like other forwards in the system.

Financially it doesn't hurt, and Montreal receives compensation if Kovalev isn't signed. Thus it basically cancels out the pick going to broadway.

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