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According to, the Pens are close to consummating a deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs that would bring LW Alexei Ponikarovsky to Pittsburgh in exchange for 21-year-old LW Luca Caputi and defenseman Martin Skoula.

The 29-year-old Ponikarovsky goes 6'4", 220, and will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. He has amassed 19 goals and 22 assists for the Maple Leafs thus far in 2009-10; his career bests in both categories came last year, with 23 goals and 38 assists.

Ponikarovsky originally entered the NHL in 2000-01 with the Leafs after being drafted 87th overall in 1998. Prior to his NHL debut, he was helping Moscow Dynamo to the Russian Superleague title in 1999. He has appeared in 23 career playoff games in the NHL with Toronto, but it's been a while; he last saw the postseason in 2003-04, with a goal and three assists.

Caputi was a highly-regarded prospect in the Penguin organization but has played just nine regular season contests in the NHL to this point, with two goals and one assist. A fourth-round pick of the Pens in 2007, he flashed his potential in 2007-08 with 51 goals and 111 points in just 66 games as a member of the OHL's Niagara IceDogs, but has been unable to make a splash in limited NHL action thus far.

The 30-year-old Skoula joined the Pens this season and has three goals and five assists in 33 games. A first-round pick of Colorado in 1998, Skoula will be joining his sixth NHL organization, as he has also spent time with Anaheim, Dallas, and Minnesota in addition to the Pens and Avs. He was a fan favorite only as a candidate to get dealt at the deadline, so I guess he met expectations on that front.

Staying true to his form, GM Ray Shero is making a play to bolster his roster for another postseason run by trading a potential piece of the future. But considering the relative lack of success enjoyed by former Pens dealt at this time of year in the past (Angelo Esposito, Colby Armstrong, Erik Christensen, Noah Welch, etc), I'm nodding my head yes in agreement with this deal. Basically, Shero has dealt for two proven commodities and the only piece he sacrificed from his big-league roster was Skoula. I'm on board with that.


Looks like it's a done deal, according to the PG's Dave Molinari

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NickDawg said...

Ray freakin Shero working his magic again!!! this guy keeps pulling rabbits out of his hat...what a tremendous deal to get this massive winger for in front of the net...this move should propel the pens all the way to the finals

Steve said...

Yup, Caputi may turn out to be a better player than Ponikarovsky in the end, but he wasn't going to help the Pens this season and Ponikarovsky's combination of skill and size was something the Pens were missing as a top lines winger. He's Russian, so that helps with Malkin, plus at only 29 and signable, this doesn't have to a one foot in the glue factory rental like Whitney would have been.

I originally was hoping for a trade that involved Skoula and (other) for Armstrong, but this is even better as Ponikarovsky has more offensive upside.

Steve said...

Not only that, if he somehow fails to click on the Malkin line and is bumped to the 3rd line, after Malkin and Crosby have rope-a-doped the other teams top defensive pairings, the Pens can simply roll out their 3rd line of Staal, Ponikarovsky and Cooke and "put da boys ta werk".

Louis Lipps is my homeboy said...

Poni can maybe fill the Ryan Malone, power forward-type role that we haven't had in awhile.

The knock on him is that he lacks "toughness", but maybe he'll be more motivated to be "tougher" with Sid and Geno feeding him pucks.