Happy Trade Deadline Day to everyone in Hockeyland. Hopefully, one of these days, this will be a national holiday both here and in Canada, but until that time, I’ll be here analysing the days deals.
Toronto sends Alexei Ponikarovsky to the Penguins for Luca Caputi and Martin Skoula
Ray Shero continues his yearly shopping trip to the Wing Market just as he’s done the past two years when he brought in Marian Hossa followed the next year by Chris Kunitz and Bill Guerin.
What this gives the Penguins – A second line winger who should fit perfectly with Malkin and Fedotenko and is most definitely an upgrade over everyone ele the Pens have tried in that spot (Dupuis, Talbot, Kennedy, Caputi). Ponihas already put up 41 points playing for a dreadful Maple Leafs team. He is now in his sixth full season, and other than a year or two of playing alongside Mats Sundin, he has never had a pivot as capable of setting him up as Crosby or Malkin. Look for him to get somewhere around 20 points down the stretch for the Pens. Ponikarovsky will be a UFA at season’s end so he is going to want to try and shine as brightly as he can to land himself a new deal here or somewhere else next year. With the impending Free Agency of both Guerin and Fedotenko, there could possibly be room for Poni should both sides be able to work out a deal. If not, the Pens will have both Bill and Ruslan’s salary numbers to try and find a winger next year.
What Tornto gets – Martin Skoula. I reall don’t think any more needs to be said about him other than he was only included so the Penguins could fit Ponikarovsky (Couldn’t they have traded for a guy named Smith?) under their salary cap. Luca Caputi. Many thought Caputi would be the Pens first wing prospect to make the big club since Tyler Kennedy did it in 2007. Caputi, a Toronto native has put up impressive numbers in both Junior (Scoring over 100 points for Niagara Falls as well as averaging 2 points a game in the playoffs) and for the Pens farm team in Wilkes-Barre (47 points in 54 games this year). Many hockey analysts that I have spoken to about Caputi thought he had the potential to score in the 80’s playing wing for either Crosby or Malkin, but I think the Pens saw enough of him in his limited engagements with the big club to know that they could part with him and still not lose any depth what with having Jeffrey, Johnson, Letestu and Tangradi as well as Chris Conner.
Trade Analysis – I think this will turn out to be a win for both sides. Toronto was going to lose Poni any way to free agency, and for a team that really isn’t going anywhere this year, they not only were able to get some return for him but a decent prospect with some potential upside (And a Toronto native to boot). Pittsburgh gets their annual wing acquisition, and since we all know how small of a window there is to win in professional sports, you have to take your shots at it while it’s open. Even if they lose Poni in the off season, they are a better team this morning than they were yesterday