Forward Andrei Loktionov was hoping to make his debut with the New Jersey Devils in Friday’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers. However, the trade yesterday with the Winnipeg Jets changed those plans.
Loktionov, who practiced with the team yesterday, was returned to the Albany Devils after Alexei Ponikarovsky was obtained from the Jets. Ponikarovsky came back to the Devils for a seventh-round pick in this summer’s NHL entry draft as well as a fourth-round pick in the 2014 draft.
His first stint with the Devils came last season when he was traded from the Carolina Hurricanes for defenseman Joe Sova and a fourth-round pick in last June’s draft. Ponikarovsky made an immediate impact with the team. He had seven goals and eleven assists in thirty-three games for the Devils and was a pivotal player in the run to the Stanley Cup Finals.
Ponikarovsky became an unrestricted free agent on July 1st and took a one-year deal with the Jets worth $1.8 million. The Devils would have liked to have re-signed him, but were waiting on Zach Parise and his multimillion dollar decision to head home to the Minnesota Wild.
“I know it was a tough situation in New Jersey in terms of ownership,” Ponikarovsky said in an interview with the Star Ledger. “Plus Zach was a free agent as well. Winnipeg called and offered me a contract and wanted me to come and play. I said okay. It just happened. New Jersey wasn’t ready to do anything at that time. I couldn’t miss the chance.”
Ponikarovsky was a perfect fit with the Devils last season, but that wasn’t the case with the Jets. He had struggled offensively in Winnipeg with just two goals in twelve games.
Coach Pete DeBoer said in an interview that he was sorry to see Ponikarovsky leave this summer and was happy to have him back.
Since he knows the system, Ponikarovsky should need very little time to adjust. Loktionov, on the other hand, is on his way back to Albany.
Dainius Zubrus is undergoing exploratory surgery on his wrist today. The forward may be lost for two months. The addition of Ponikarovsky should help the team in his absence.