Ponikarovsky Heading to L.A.

Ponikarovsky Heading to L.A.

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A former Leaf is about to sign with Los Angeles, as Alexei Ponikarovsky has agreed to join the Kings (although a deal has not yet been signed).  This ends some speculation that “Poni” would have to take his games overseas, as this summers UFA market has seen a lot of viable NHL players still without a job.  Ponikarovsky was shipped to the Penguins by Toronto at this year’s trade deadline, bringing back Luca Caputi in what was a very fair exchange of players.  However, Pittsburgh was expecting the Ukrainian to contribute at the level that saw him pour out 61 points for the Leafs in 2008-2009.  With a disappointing 9 points down the stretch for the recent champs and an awful showing in the playoffs, teams weren’t exactly lining up to sign the 30-year old.

However, Los Angeles is more than happy to take a chance on the four-time 20 goal scorer, as they are a thrice-shunned (Kovalchuk, Gagne, Frolov…count it!)  franchise that seriously desired an offensive boost.  It remains to be seen whether Ponikarovsky will be the answer to their problems.  While Alexei is capable of a relatively dependable two-way game, he is hardly an impact player on a consistent basis and was surprisingly invisible during a lot of his stay in Pittsburgh.  This could be an indication that Ponikarovsky needs to be relied upon heavily to produce at his 60-point pace (as he was [unfortunately] a big part of Toronto’s offense in the last few years).  With elite talent taking away the premier ice-time, the longtime Maple Leaf is closer to a 45 point forward.  This will be the case down south, as Ponikarovsky slots in under Anze Kopitar, Justin Williams, Ryan Smyth, Dustin Brown and Wayne Simmonds on the depth chart.

As such, this move is heavily dependent on the details of this contract (which should be released shortly).  If Kings GM Dean Lombardi dished out a figure under the $3 million that Frolov signed today with the Rangers, this would be a good contract for a team with a ton of cap space anyways.  Any more and the Kings will find themselves with a player that is a good complementary NHLer, but one that will rarely be the difference between a win and a loss.