1644.15 miles separates the heart of Winnipeg, Manitoba, CA to the heart of downtown Newark. Alexei Ponikarovsky will be taking that trip back to NJ where he probably scored one of the biggest goals of his NHL career. An overtime goal against the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 3 of the 2012 Eastern Conference Semi-Finals at The Prudential Center.
In a rare and interesting development surfacing around 8pm Wednesday February 13, 2013, Bob McKenzie tweeted, “NJD trade 2013 7th round pick and 2014 4th round pick to WPG for Ponikarovsky.” Something uncharacteristic of Lou Lamoriello to do so early in the season, let alone later in the evening. With Dainius Zubrus scheduled to undergo exploratory wrist surgery and miss 2-8 weeks, the Devils replace the loss of one big bodied winger with another. I can’t however see Zubrus back in the lineup within 8 weeks.
With the news of Zubrus’ surgery and rumblings of him not returning anytime soon, there is no better replacement for him than Ponikarovsky. A big bodied power forward that drives the net and works hard to protect puck. In 33 games with NJ, Ponikarovsky had 7 goals, 11 assists, a +9 with 1 goal, 8 assists, and a +8 in the post season. So how did Ponikarovsky feel about the trade? “I was surprised and excited in the same time.” He has a lot to look forward to coming back to NJ. Alexei is comfortable and knows the Devils system and head coach, he’s played plenty of games with the majority of the current Devils roster through their playoff run and suits the way he plays.
Ponikarovsky is expected to be on a plane Thursday and be in the lineup against the Flyers Friday night at The Prudential Center.