By Allan Muir
Nothing breeds success like familiarity.
That’s clearly the thinking in New Jersey, where the Devils tonight announced the re-acquisition of forward Alexei Ponikarovsky from the Winnipeg Jets in exchange for a 2013 seventh rounder and a 2014 fourth rounder.
Ponikarovsky will be on his second tour of duty with the Devils. He was dealt there last season by the Hurricanes and was solid in the team’s run to the Cup Final, racking up nine points and a plus-eight rating.
He left New Jersey to join the Jets as a free agent over the summer. The Devils wanted to re-sign the 12-year-vet at the time, but the team’s focus on negotiations with Zach Parise led him to look elsewhere rather than wait for scraps.
“We really would have re-signed him except that at that time we were really waiting to see what we were going to be doing with another player and it held up,” said New Jersey GM Lou Lamoriello. “And I don’t think he could wait any longer, which I respected.”
Failing to get that deal done at the time cost them two picks now, but the Devils were desperate for another experienced forward having lost Dainius Zubrus for up to eight weeks. Ponikarovsky, who is expected to play Friday against Philadelphia, should make a quick transition to a familiar system.
“He played our style,” Lamoriello said. “He played in all situations. He was a player that played extremely well for us throughout the playoffs and just fit into the sort of culture that we have here in New Jersey.”
The Jets were looking to thin out their forward ranks after acquiring Eric Tangradi from Pittsburgh earlier today. Tangradi, a former second-round pick of the Pens, was a dangerous power forward with Belleville of the OHL, but couldn’t translate his game to the NHL despite multiple opportunities alongside Evgeni Malkin. They’re hoping a change of scenery will help him rediscover his confidence.