The Los Angeles Kings wasted no time after they lost out on the Alexander Frolov sweepstakes. They have signed Alexei Ponikarovsky to a one-year $3.2 million contract. Ponikarovsky has spent nine of his 10 NHL seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs. He was dealt at this year's trade deadline to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Ponikarovsky has averaged roughly 20 goals for the last six seasons with around 20-30 assists and a plus five rating.
He has been solid and is worth around the $3.2 million he is slated to get. His one-year contract seems to be following the path of other burgeoning stars in order to prove his worth.
Ponikarovsky is built like a Greek God. Absolutely huge and very powerful. The problem is that he does not use his size a lot and is not a pure goal scorer. As such, Ponikarovsky fell out of favour with Brian Burke and was thus traded to Pittsburgh for Luca Caputi.
He is, however, a very solid skater. While he does not use his big body and strength as much as he should, the potential for growth is there. He has the tools and the coaching staff necessary to motivate him to advance his game. His strength lies in the corners and in front of the net.
Ponikarovsky must improve now, otherwise the youngsters on the Kings may regress, making this a huge problem for Dean Lombardi. To be fair, he is only signed on for one year and this is well worth the risk.
Despite the fact he played with Mats Sundin, he was never anything special. He is at best a second line winger on an average team. He has not shown that he can become a true leader for a championship team.
The Kings are hoping that will change.