|Posted by Steven Liberman on May 25, 2013 at 12:25 AM|
Alexei Ponikarovsky might have scored the 3rd biggest goal of the 2012 Playoffs for the Devils which was an overtime winner in Game 3 in Round 2 against the Flyers. He is also known as a Flyer killer, since his best games usually came against Philadelphia. His goal in Game 3 in overtime really changed the complexion of that series along with Adam Larsson's game tying goal in the previous game and thus the Devils would go on to smoke the Flyers in 5 games, but it was his only goal of the 2012 playoffs. But, he was a big part of the Devils relentless fore-check and would contribute in other areas.
However, this season it was Ponikarovsky's 2nd stint with the Devils in as many as two years and it was a very tough and uneasy one. In January 2012, the Devils first acquired Ponikarovsky from the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for defensive prospect Joe Sova and a 4th round pick. He played 33 games and racked up 7 goals, 11 assists and 8 penalty minutes. During the Summer, Ponikarovsky wanted to sign on July 1st, but the Devils had other matters to attend to and so he went to Winnipeg for a 1 year deal worth $1.8 Million dollars. In 12 games with Winnipeg he had 2 goals and no assists. But, the Devils were struggling with their fore-check and with him unhappy with the Jets, they decided in February 2013 to re-acquire him, this time from Winnipeg for a 4th round pick and a 7th rounder in 2014 Draft. In 30 games this season he got 2 goals and 5 assists and 8 penalty minutes. That was not what the Devils hopef from him as he was not as impactful as last year. Maybe that had to do with losing Parise to Wild.
Ponikarovsky in 678 career regular season games has 139 goals, 184 assists for 323 points and 419 penalty minutes. In 62 career playoff games he has 4 goals, 15 assists for 19 points and 28 penalty minutes. He played for the Toronto Maple Leafs, Pittsburgh Penguins, Los Angeles Kings, Carolina Hurricanes, Winnipeg Jets and the New Jersey Devils. Now, the question is, should the Devils bring him back again for next year or beyond? Well, for once, I have to say, I do not see him coming back to the Devils. In fact I think he could be headed to the KHL since he is not going to get much interest from other clubs. He did struggle in his 2nd stint with the Devils, but I think if he is brought back, it should be at no more than a 2 year deal for $1.1 Million a season, but the Devils need to get younger and get more goal scoring, not that much grit or risk Ponikarovsky might handle.