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The Alexei Ponikarovsky Trade Isn't Looking So Good Today

May 8, 2010 – 4:25 PM
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Adam Gretz

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In his four years as general manager of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Ray Shero has become quite the master of the trade deadline, having acquired such players as Gary Roberts, Hal Gill, Marian Hossa, Pascal Dupuis, Bill Guerin and Chris Kunitz, putting his team in a position to make two straight runs to the Stanley Cup Final.

This year's shopping spree at the NHL's yearly fire sale hasn't exactly yielded the same positive results.

His biggest addition, hulking 6-foot-4 forward Alexei Ponikarovsky, acquired in early March from the Toronto Maple Leafs for Luca Caputi, has been, to say the least, a rather large bust to this point. Ponikarovsky has scored just three goals in 26 games (regular season and playoffs) with the Pens, all while playing on a line with Evgeni Malkin. That's simply not good enough.

Even worse? According to multiple reports he's going to be a healthy scratch when the Penguins take the ice at Mellon Arena for Game 5 on Saturday night.

During the team's morning skate on Saturday, Pittsburgh used line combinations that included Sidney Crosby skating between Guerin and Kunitz, and Malkin between Dupuis and Max Talbot. Ponikarovsky and Ruslan Fedotenko were not included in the top-12. Saturday's skate also saw the highly productive and energetic third line of Jordan Staal, Tyler Kennedy and Matt Cooke be reunited, while Mike Rupp, Mark Letestu and Craig Adams made up the fourth line.

Ponikarovsky is set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, and his dismal performance in Pittsburgh, combined with the fact he's set watch a crucial Game 5 from the Press Box in a suit, certainly hasn't helped his value on the open market. Still, if the Penguins can find a way to solve Jaroslav Halak and the Canadiens defense and advance beyond the second round, he's going to have another opportunity to redeem himself at some point. Whether he does, however, remains to be seen.

His struggles this postseason have continued a disappointing trend from his days in Toronto, having scored just two goals to go with six assists in 33 career playoff games.
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