NOTE: Josef Balej was traded on March 2, 2004 to the New York Rangers in return for Alex Kovalev. HabsWorld will keep his profile available for the fans on the prospects section until appropriate time.
Name: Josef Balej
Position: Right Wing
Hometown: Trencin, Slovakia
Acquired: 2000 NHL Draft, 3rd round (78th)
Traded: March 2, 2004 to New York Rangers for Alex Kovalev
Speed, speed, and more speed. Very fast and solid skating with a cannon of a shot. Can score goals with either his wrist or slap shot, both are heavy and effective.
Hockey sense is questionable. Balance and overall strength are a concern. Needs to get a stronger, and more involved physically. Needs some work on his playmaking abilities. Must get better in his own end while improving his defensive play.
HW Updates, by Dan Linn
Canadiens Mid-season Top 20 – 6. Josef Balej- RW. (9th) Balej jumps a few spots, as he is having a breakout year for the Bulldogs, in his second professional season. After suffering from an injury early in the season last year, Balej struggled to find his game or ice time, as he played for the top team in the AHL. Things weren’t looking good for him when the new season started, as he was one of the first cuts to be made by the Canadiens brass, which had to be a big disappointment to the young Slovak, but instead he didn’t let get to him as he has been one of the top scorers in Hamilton and the AHL for most of the season. Using his exploding speed, Balej is able to generate things on offense every time he has the puck, which makes life difficult for opposing goalies and defensemen throughout the AHL and soon to be NHL.
January 2004 – Is the Dogs leading scorer, and is currently third overall in league scoring, as the second year pro is enjoying a breakout season as he leads the Dogs in just about every area of offense. His +19 leads the entire AHL, as he has shown he can play in all ends of the rink, in all situations, which gives him a lot of ice time. Balej has just been called up to the Habs, a reward for his recent success, as he has exploded offensively as he now has more then double the amount of goals then any other Hab prospect. Balej, along with Plekanec have formed an impressive duo, as they have been a major reason for the teams success and have a combined nine game winning goals between them.
December 2003 – Has taken over the lead as the top scorer for the Habs AHL prospects. Playing on the top line with Hossa and Gratton, Balej has racked up the points and has been a real force in both ends of the ice. In two games, Balej was able to pick up six points as he exploded offensively, feeding off the confidence coach Jarvis has in him, as Jarvis will play him in any situation, including on the PK which he hasn’t played much of in the past.
November 2003 – After not getting any action in the Habs preseason, things were not looking good for 2nd year pro Balej, but he has been one of the better forwards all season long through the early stages of the year. Balej has been flipped between the 1st and 2nd line, as he fits in well with Plekanec, but a recent move up to Gratton’s line has proved effective for the entire line as they are on a roll right now. Balej also sees time on the PP and PK. Last season, injury and a deep Hamilton roster kept Balej out of action for a large part of the season, but this year he hasn’t shown any signs of rust, as the speedster has been very effective getting shots and creating offense.
October 2003 – After being returned to the WHL as an overager, a disappointing 1st year in the AHL, and not much luck at the Habs camp, things weren’t looking good for Balej, but don’t tell him that, as he has been flying up and down the ice shooting the puck at will. Hopefully this success will give Balej the confidence to produce on a nightly basis, and having Plekanec feed him the puck won’t hurt his chances. Great to see him start the new season with a bang, as his hard work is paying off so far on the scoresheet which puts him near the top of the team in scoring. Balej really seems to have his confidence going, as he is generating a lot of scoring chances, using his speed to his advantage.