The Devils have re-acquired left wing Alexei Ponikarovsky from Winnipeg in exchange for a 7th-round pick in 2013 and a 4th-round pick in 2014. The announcement was made by President/CEO/GM Lou Lamoriello.
It’s Ponikarovsky’s second stint in New Jersey. He tallied seven goals and 11 assists in 33 games with the Devils last season after being acquired from Carolina on Jan. 20, 2012, for defenseman Joe Sova and a 4th round choice (Jaccob Slavin) in 2012.
“I was surprised and excited at the same time,” Ponikarovsky said from Winnipeg on Wednesday’s conference call with reporters. “I know the team, I know the way they play and I think a lot of things we’ve done in the past, it suits me. It’s one of those things; I can’t control the trade and other things, the only thing I can do is come out and play the way I played before.”
Ponikarovsky scored in his Devils debut on Jan. 21 against Philadelphia, and notched the overtime winner versus the Flyers in Game 3 of the conference semifinals.
He signed with the Jets as a free agent and posted two goals in 12 games this season.
“Obviously there’s a few (good memories),” Ponikarovsky said of his first tour with the Devils. “We went to the Stanley Cup Final. That’s the pretty important one in my mind. The way we played and everybody contributed, and everybody sacrificed a lot of things for it. It just felt great. It’s still fresh in my mind because it’s a short season and it just started. I still remember that. It’s probably going to stay with me for the rest of my life, but I’m just saying that right now it’s just one of those things that comes up in my mind, for sure.”
Lamoriello knows exactly what he’s getting in the 6-4, 225-lb. forward, who’s expected to be in the lineup for Friday’s game against the Flyers.
“I think it was a major factor in re-acquiring him because he fit in so well,” Lamoriello said. “He played our style, he played in all situations. We really would have re-signed him, except that, at that time, we were waiting to see what we were going to be doing with another player. It held (it) up and I don’t think he could wait any longer, which I respected. But he was a player that played extremely well for us throughout the playoffs and just fit into the culture that we have here in New Jersey.”
The move addresses a hole left by the injury to Dainius Zubrus, who has missed the last four games.
“There’s no question that that played a factor in doing something aggressively at this time,” Lamoriello said. “Zubrus will be going for exploratory surgery on his wrist (Thursday). We don’t know what the results will be. It could be anywhere from two to eight weeks and that we won’t know until the next 48 hours.
“So yes, it was a factor as far as being aggressive in this situation because of the size and strength, the void (Zubrus’ injury) left in the lineup which Poni certainly brings. He’s an all-situation player and was used last year killing penalties, power plays, as well as 5-on-5. He knows the system. He came here in the middle of the year and played extremely well.”
Lamoriello said a player will be assigned to Albany to make room for Ponikarovsky once the transaction was made official.
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