Rangers, Canadiens complete six-player trade

New York Rangers President and General Manager Glen Sather announced today that the club has acquired forward Chris Higgins and defensemen Ryan McDonagh and Pavel Valentenko from the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for forwards Scott Gomez and Tommy Pyatt, and defenseman Michael Busto.

Higgins, 26, has skated in 282 regular-season NHL contests with Montreal, recording 84 goals and 67 assists for 151 points, along with 96 penalty minutes. The 6-0, 205-pounder has eclipsed the 20-goal mark three times, and in 2007-08 he established career highs in games played (82), goals (27), assists (25), points (52), power-play goals (12), game-winning goals (five), and shots (241).

Higgins appeared in 57 games with the Montreal Canadiens this past season, registering 12 goals and 11 assists for 23 points, along with 22 penalty minutes.

Higgins played two seasons in the AHL with Hamilton (2003-05), totaling 49 goals and 50 assists for 99 points in 143 games. The Smithtown, N.Y., native was originally Montreal’s first-round choice, 14th overall, in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft.

McDonagh, 20, skated in 36 contests with the University of Wisconsin Badgers of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) this past season, registering five goals and 11 assists for 16 points, along with 59 penalty minutes. The 6-1, 212-pounder established career-highs in assists (11), points (16) and penalty minutes (59) in his second season with the Badgers.

The St. Paul, Minn., native was originally Montreal’s first-round choice, 12th overall, in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.

Valentenko, 21, split the 2008-09 season between Dynamo Moscow of the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) and the Hamilton Bulldogs. The 6-2, 220-pounder collected one assist in eight games with Dynamo Moscow after beginning the season in Hamilton, where he tallied two assists in four games.

The Nizhnekamsk, Russia, native was originally Montreal’s fifth-round choice, 139th overall, in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft.

Gomez, 29, appeared in 77 games with the Rangers this past season, collecting 16 goals and 42 assists for 58 points, along with 60 penalty minutes. He was acquired by the Rangers as a free agent on July 1, 2007.

Pyatt, 22, appeared in 73 games with the Hartford Wolf Pack this past season, registering 15 goals and 22 assists for 37 points, along with 22 penalty minutes. The native of Thunder Bay, Ont., shows 19 goals and 29 assists for 48 points in 115 career AHL contests.

Busto, 23, spent his first two pro seasons in the ECHL with the Charlotte Checkers. He recorded three goals and eight assists for 11 points, along with 41 penalty minutes, in 54 games in 2008-09.