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Penguins acquire Ponikarovsky for Caputi, Skoula - 03-02-10

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

(Note: We'll have our post-game notes up on line much later in the morning. A trade probably much more important than telling you how many blocked shots Craig Adams had.)

The Penguins have acquired forward Alexei Ponikarovsky (above) from the Maple Leafs in exchange for forward prospect Luca Caputi and defenseman Martin Skoula.

Ponikarovsky, 29, has 41 points (19 goals, 22 assists) and is plus-5 in 61 games. He has a salary cap figure of $2.105 million and is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent after this season.

A big body at 6-foot-4, 229 pounds, Ponikarovsky is in his ninth season in the NHL. He was a fourth-round pick of the Maple Leafs in 1998. He is expected to play on Evgeni Malkin's line.

Caputi, 21, was considered the Penguins' top prospect. Over the past two seasons, he has appeared in nine NHL games and has recorded three points. In 54 games with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins this season, he has 47 points (23 goals, 24 assists). Caputi (6-foot-2, 184 points) was the Penguins' fourth-round pick in 2007.

Skoula (right, hugging Caputi), 30, has eight points (three goals, five assists) and is a minus-4 in 33 games this season. He joined the team as a free agent signing late in the preseason. With a salary cap figure of $575,000, he is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent after the season.

EN Says: We're not exactly crazy about this move, but we're not totally repulsed by it either. 

Ponikarovsky has size and some scoring ability. He has hit the 20-goal mark three out of the previous four seasons despite not being on great teams in Toronto. And he will play a responsible defensive games. But he's never going to be confused with a Gary Roberts or Ryan Malone in the area of heart or desire. Rightly or wrongly, he's gained a repuation as a guy who will dog it on occasion.

Again, perhaps that was due to his surroundings in Toronto and you would imagine jumping to a team with legit chance to win a Staney Cup and the possibility of playing with someone the caliber of Malkin would spark a player's desire.

Part of us wants to be upset that the Penguins dealt a legit prospect like Caputi. They cleary sacrificed the future for this deal. But they're not building for the future these days. They're playing for now. Ponikarovsky is an immediate upgrade on the winger position. He has a combination of size and speed that can overwhelm opponents at times.

It was only a matter of time before Skoula was moved off the team in some fashion. He played very well early in his tenure with the Penguins filling in as starter after starter went down. But his game gradually began to decline. It got so bad that the team was opting to recall Ben Lovejoy from the AHL to fill in for some missing starters instead of trusting Skoula. With Jordan Leopod in town, Skoula was clearly on his way out. The only reason the Maple Leafs took him was so the Penguins could clear out the salary cap space.

-Some highlights. Ponikarovsky has some legit scoring touch. Especially near the net:

-Despite his size, Ponikarovsky can be on the wrong end of some hits or fights:

(Photo: Ponikarovsky-Abelimages/Getty Images; Skoula and Caputi-Peter Diana/Post-Gazette)

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