EL SEGUNDO, CA — On July 27, the Los Angeles Kings signed unrestricted free agent left wing Alexei Ponikarovsky to a one-year contract worth $3 million.
The deal also paid the 30-year-old native of Kiev, Ukraine a $200,000 signing bonus, bring his salary cap hit to $3.2 million for the 2010-11 season.
The 6-4, 229-pound winger scored 19 goals and tallied 22 assists for 41 points with 44 penalty minutes in 61 regular season games with the Maple Leafs before being dealt to the Penguins on March 2, 2010, in exchange for forward Luca Caputi and defenseman Martin Skoula.
With the Penguins, Ponikarovsky scored two goals and contributed seven assists for nine points with 17 penalty minutes in 16 regular season games.
In the playoffs, Ponikarovsky scored a goal and added four assists for five points in eleven games with the Pens.
In the 2008-09 season, Ponikarovsky set career highs in goals (23), assists (38), points (61) and games played (82) with the Maple Leafs. In all, Ponikarovsky has scored twenty or more goals in four of the past five seasons.
Selected by the Maple Leafs in the fourth round (87th overall) of the 1998 National Hockey League Entry Draft, Ponikarovsky has scored 116 goals and has tallied 150 assists for 266 points with 335 penalty minutes with a +50 plus/minus rating in 493 regular season games with the Penguins and Maple Leafs.
In 34 NHL playoff games, Ponikarovsky has scored two goals and has added seven assists for nine points with 16 penalty minutes and a -1 rating.
Prior to coming to North America to play in the NHL, Ponikarovsky played for Dynamo Moscow and Krylya Sovetov in Russia.
The acquisition of Ponikarovsky is a lateral move for the Kings after left wing Alexander Frolov signed an unrestricted free agent contract with the New York Rangers.
Frolov was seeking a contract valued at $4-5 million per year from the Kings and other potential suitors, but no team offered him such a deal after his poor 2009-10 season in which he scored just 19 goals.
Both Ponikarovsky and Frolov have good size, but are not known as physical players. Frolov is a bit more gifted offensively and possesses superior puck protection skills. But Ponikarovsky is more responsible defensively and is expected to be more consistent than Frolov, who was only consistent in that he would disappear for several games at a time after a short stretch of strong performances.
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