The New Jersey Devils could have brought back Alexei Ponikarovsky without giving up any draft picks after he played a pivotal role in their Stanley Cup run last season, but, as GM Lou Lamoriello put it, they were “waiting on another player”. That player was likely Zach Parise, and while the New Jersey Devils waited for their captain to sign elsewhere, Alexei Ponikarovsky signed a one-year contract for 1.8 million dollars with the Winnipeg Jets.
On Wednesday, the New Jersey Devils traded for Ponikarovsky after news that top-line winger Dainus Zubrus‘ injury would require exploratory surgery. With Zubrus out indefinitely, the Devils faced a new level of urgency. The move to bring in Alexei Ponikarovsky from the Winnipeg Jets brings depth and chemistry by reacquiring a player that knows New Jersey’s system. Though the New Jersey Devils haven’t missed a beat since losing Parise, the move to reacquire Ponikarovsky restores the piece that got away from their Stanley Cup roster.
The Winnipeg Jets received a 2014 fourth-round and 2013 seventh-round draft pick for Alexei Ponikarovsky. Given Ponikarovsky’s relative mediocrity this season and his overpriced one-year deal, the Winnipeg Jets gained an excellent return on a player they acquired through free agency this off-season.
Ponikarovsky has just two points through eleven games with the Winnipeg Jets. With the New Jersey Devils, however, Ponikarovsky rejoins a system he thrived in.
In 2008-09, Alexei Ponikarovsky registered 61 points and 23 goals. If he can recapture his scoring touch, and perhaps some of last season’s magic, the New Jersey Devils acquired a physical scorer with a grinding presence that adds Stanley Cup experience and depth. The Winnipeg Jets part with a struggling, overpaid grinder signed through free agency for a strong return in draft picks.
It appears that this trade has the potential to be a mutually beneficial move for both the Winnipeg Jets and New Jersey Devils.