After losing on Ilya Kovalchuk even if his deal with the New Jersey Devils has not been officially approved by the league yet, GM Dean Lombardi took a decision to go in a different direction inking hulking winger Alexei Ponikarovsky to a one-year $3 million contract. The former Penguins and Maple Leafs will also receive a $200,000 signing bonus.
Ponikarovsky, 30, notched 21 goals and 29 assists for 50 points in 77 games split between Toronto and Pittsburgh last season. Poni reached the 20-goal mark for the fourth time since 2005-06. The Russian winger had his best season with the Maple Leafs in 2008-09, scoring 23 goals and 28 assists for 61 points.
Ponikarovsky never really blended well with the Penguins last season after being acquired at the trade deadline from Toronto, even being a healthy scratch twice during the playoffs against Montreal.
He will join an offensive group loaded with young talented players such as Dustin Brown, Anze Kopitar and Wayne Simmonds who are complemented by veterans like Ryan Smyth, Jarret Stoll, Justin Williams and Michal Handzus. Ponikarovsky will likely find a nice on the Kings second line and see some power play time.
This signing was done to compensate Alexander Frolov’s loss as an unrestricted free agent. Frolov signed a one-year $3 million deal with the New York Rangers earlier today.
Dean Lombardi’s next move will likely to add a veteran defenseman to his defensive corps as his team is lacking grit and experience on the backend.
About the Author: Working as a freelance sports writer and translator, Fred, 33, graduated from Laval University in Quebec City, earning a bachelor of translation in 2002. An avid fan of the Northeast division teams, he's also a long time fan of the Washington Capitals and the Montreal Canadiens. Fred also speaks fluently French and Spanish. http://twitter.com/FredPoulin98 www.traductions-quebec.com