While this off-season has been mostly a let down for the Los Angeles Kings coming up short in efforts to land Dan Hamhuis, Paul Martin and most famously Ilya Kovalchuk, they’ve finally landed a scoring forward to help out. The Kings announced today that they’ve signed Ukrainian power forward Alexei Ponikarovsky to a one-year contract. Terms of the deal are not immediately known. We’ll update this post later on when they become available.
(Update: TSN’s Darren Dreger reports it’s a $3 million deal with a $200,000 signing bonus.)
Ponikarovsky is a big boy a 6’4″ 229 pounds as well as a slick skater. Unfortunately for Penguins fans, when Ponikarovsky was acquired by them last season, he didn’t make much use of his body offensively and soured his free agent value scoring just two goals and nine points with the Penguins in 16 games. In the playoffs he wasn’t much better scoring just one goal and earning five points.
In his career with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Ponikarovsky was a steady 20-goal guy and able to notch anywhere between 30-40 assists per season. He’ll be counted on to be the Kings’ second line winger behind Ryan Smyth and while he’ll essentially be the ideal replacement for losing Alex Frolov, his goal scoring ability and touch is a bit behind what Frolov could do, although Ponikarovsky’s ability to set players up is much better. The Kings will be counting heavily upon Ponikarovsky to help keep scoring levels up for the blossoming team but one of his underrated qualities is his ability to defend better, something Alexander Frolov struggled mightily with and something that seemed to frustrate Kings coach Terry Murray.