Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Andrei Kovalenko Autograph Card

I mentioned Andrei Kovalenko a lot on this blog but hadn't featured yet, so I thought I could correct that while at the same time using him as one the two representatives of #51 (with Philippe Cornet) in my Oilers Numbers Project with the signed insert version of card #202 from In The Game's 1998-99 Be A Player set, showing him in the Edmonton Oilers' blue (away) turn-of-the-millennium uniform with the "Oil Driller" shoulder patches:
Kovalenko was an eighth round draft pick (148th overall) in 1990, one of three players selected by the Québec Nordiques (with Owen Nolan and Alexander Karpovtsev) who would end up as NHL regulars (Ryan Hughes and Brad Zavisha would also combine for a handful of games) in an exceptional draft crop.

The 68 points he posted as a rookie in 1992-93 were a career high, but he had posted nine goals in ten games with the Colorado Avalanche when they traded him to the Montréal Canadiens along with Martin Rucinsky and Jocelyn Thibault for the Habs' then-captain Mike Keane and the greatest clutch goaltender of all time, Patrick Roy.

Though he was traded to the Oilers just nine months later (for Scott Thornton), he did find a way into the Habs' record books by scoring the final goal at the famed Montréal Forum; he had his lone 30-goal season in the Albertan tundra (32, in 1996-97), before moving on to play with the Philadelphia Flyers, Carolina Hurricanes and Boston Bruins, then in the KHL for nine seasons, with the Yaroslavl Lokomotiv (4), Omsk Avangard (2), and Cherepovets Severstal (3).

He also made history with the Canes, scoring the very first goal at the RBC Center (now known as the PNC Arena) in Raleigh.

He is now the head of the KHLPA.

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