The New Jersey Devils made a high-impact transaction on Wednesday night, acquiring Alexei Ponikarovsky from the Winnipeg Jets for a 4th and 7th round pick in the 2013 NHL Draft. He will be available to play Friday vs. the Philadelphia Flyers.
Ponikarovsky spent half of last year with the Devils, playing 33 games and accumulating 18 points before playing a big role in New Jersey’s playoff push to the Stanley Cup Finals. He signed with Winnipeg in the offseason, and managed to play 12 games with the Jets, scoring two goals on 10 shots in 12 games.
He was re-acquired hours after the Devils placed Dainius Zubrus on injured reserve, announced that he would be having exploratory surgery, and his recovery was estimated for 2-8 weeks. New Devil Andrei Loktionov was called up from Albany after the Zubrus surgery was announced, and a corresponding move has yet to be announced.
The Ponikarovsky trade is worth a lot more than it appears on its face, though. While the short term effects give the Devils a forward to play on the second line in Zubrus’ absence, it represents the Devils’ commitment to their players and their plans. In a conference call announcing the trade, general manager Lou Lamoriello referred back to Ponikarovsky’s great play last season and their efforts to retain him in the offseason. According to Bergen Record reporter Tom Gulitti, “Lamoriello said they wanted to re-sign Ponikarovsky last summer, but were waiting on another player, and Poni signed with WPG.”
Lamoriello has built the Devils on solid principles, and his commitment to bringing back an important part of last years Eastern Conference Championship roster shows as another example of it. And the result sees the Devils make a big acquisition at the time they need it most.