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Perhaps a forgotten prospect by many Ranger fans; but certainly not by the Rangers Organization. Defenseman Pavel Valentenko was acquired in a 7-player deal with the Montreal Canadians that involved Chris Higgins, Ryan McDonagh and Doug Janit going to the Rangers for Scott Gomez, Tom Pyatt and Michael Busto in 2009. Valentenko was included in the deal, because the Canadians believed that he would not return to North America to pursue an NHL career. Fortunately for the Rangers, Valentenko did return and nearly made the Rangers roster twice. Currently, Valentenko is playing with the KHL on a two-year contract, but the Rangers still own his rights. Although the chances of Valentenko returning to North America to play for the Rangers is a long shot. He is still considered a high prospect in the Rangers organization and deserves to be showcased.

Nicknamed “The Russian Tank” Valentenko is arguably the hardest hitting defensemen within the Rangers system and has an overpowering slap shot as well. The 24 year old defenseman will not overwhelm you with his offensive play; as he is strictly a defensive-minded defenseman who enjoys the physical part of the game. At 6’2 and weighing 220, Valentenko plays a North American style of hockey and excels in playing physical. With the departure of Tim Erixon (traded to Columbus as part of the package for Rick Nash), Valentenko could perhaps be enticed to return to North America and compete for a roster spot with the Rangers in 2013. The only roadblock that would hinder that scenario is if Valentenko’s agent Igor Kramarev demands a one way contract for his client; which the Rangers rarely do for any prospect.

Here are some scouting reports on Pavel Valentenko: ‘The Russian Tank', plays much bigger and stronger than his size. One look at this guy and you will instantly love what he brings. He is a very defensively responsible, stay at home defensemen. Pavel was likely the best open ice hitting D at the AHL level. Because of the rigorous way he plays, Pavel has been susceptible to impact injuries from hits and shot blocking and general ‘tank-like’ play. He also possesses a very heavy point shot that ranges high 90s.

Hockey’s Future: Valentenko has an excellent shot, combined with crease clearing abilities. He is excellent defensively and very responsible in his own zone and a good puck distributor. Will need to improve on his offensive game as it is non-existing, despite his 90+mph slap shot.

Strengths: As mentioned a number of times in the article; Valentenko is a defensive-minded defenseman who is more likely to pancake an opponent than score the winning goal. Despite the depth currently on the Rangers roster; there is no one who can play as physical as Valentenko. Along with his crushing hits, Valentenko possesses a heavy shot from the point that is very effective on the PP.

Weaknesses: Will not put up a lot of points and will have to avoid the injury bug that often follows him around. Not a fast skater, but is strong on his feet. At times, because of his physical play, he will often take needless penalties.

Future Analysis: At this point, it is premature to predict the future of Valentenko with the Rangers. I believe there should and could be a spot for this rugged D-man on the Rangers roster in the near future. If not, Valentenko will play in the NHL with another organization and could be an effective 3rd or 4th defenseman on many NHL teams. .

Tags: Editorial Aside, Pavel Valentenko
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