Official from the New Jersey Devils' PR Twitter account, Lou Lamoriello has announced this evening that the Devils have acquired Alexei Ponikarovsky from the Winnipeg Jets. Yes, the Devils traded for him last season. After he signed a one-year deal with the Winnipeg Jets, they got him back. It wasn't for much. According to Bob McKenzie on Twitter, all the Devils had to give Winnipeg was a seventh round pick in 2013 and a fourth round pick in 2014. Seriously, that's it.
Why did the Devils make the trade now? The answer is Dainius Zubrus. More specifically, his injury. Zubrus has been out with an "upper body injury" and missed the last few games. As Tom Gulitti reported on Twitter, Lou revealed that the injury was related to Zubrus' wrist and he will need surgery. Since that could keep him out for somewhere between two to eight weeks, the Devils needed a replacement right away. Ponikarovsky can certainly be that replacement for Zubrus. He's big, he can be physical, and he played quite well with the Devils last season and in the playoffs. He hasn't done much for Winnipeg other than two goals, ten shots, and an average ice time of 11:52 in 12 games this season. He could benefit in coming back to more familar scenery.
I would have liked him to stay with the Devils. Why didn't they just re-sign him in the summer? According to this tweet by Gulitti, Lou was waiting on someone else (his name is probably close to Pach Zarise) and Ponikarovsky didn't want to wait. Therefore, he signed a one-year deal for $1.8 million with the Jets. That was his call and that has to be respected. Ultimately, he's back and all it cost was two low draft picks that likely won't turn out to be anybody of note. I don't think there's any reason for Devils fans to not like this trade. I certainly have no complaints. Lou got a guy who can help out right away for very little. That's a great deal.
There will likely be another shoe to drop soon. The Devils don't have any roster space right now, so someone's got to go. My guess is that it could be Andrei Loktionov, since he was recently called up and the Devils don't need another forward. We won't wait long to see what happens to get Ponikarovsky on the roster. He should be available for Friday's game against the Second Rate Rivals.
This moves brings to mind the possibility of more trades. Ponikarovsky replaces Zubrus but that doesn't mean the Devils are suddenly fine at forward. They really could use another winger to strengthen the top nine, either at the very top or on that third line so the CBGBs can be the fourth line they are. That will depend a bit on where Ponikarovsky ends up in the lineup. They still have a glut of defensemen they could move to get that guy. Will that happen? Who knows.
So how do you feel about Ponikarovsky back in a Devils uniform? Do you think he'll do a good job replacing Zubrus while he's out? Who will get moved from the current roster so Ponikarovsky can be active? Who will Ponikarovsky line up with? Do you like the trade? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about this recent deal in the comments. Thank you for reading.
IMPORTANT VIDEO: How can I not bring up Ponikarovsky's big playoff moment from 2012?
It turned out to be his only goal, but it was humongous big.