Alexei Ponikarovsky certainly isn’t Ilya Kovalchuk. The Kings know this but had to settle for the second (at maximum) best option available to them to shore up their left side. However, what Ponikarovsky can bring to the table is more than what the scoresheet can provide – solid two-way play and often the first one on the backcheck. In every season with the Leafs after his first, he registered a plus rating – and that’s saying something.
That said, while Ponikarovsky can put up offensive numbers, this move is likely to rank him well in the preseason rankings but drafting him too early may set you up for a disappointing year. While he is 2 years removed from a career-best 23 goal and 61 point season, Ponikarovsky showed last season, in his contract year, that he couldn’t put up big offensive numbers despite lining up next to Evgeni Malkin for 16 games. Ponikarovsky has also never been much of a powerplay threat, with his best powerplay production being the 13 powerplay points he obtained in his aforementioned career-best season.
His role with the Kings expects to be more of a second-line role with Michal Handzus and Ryan Smyth should maintain his top-line role that worked so well last season. While the Kings expect to be an explosive young team – reminiscent of the Blackhawks – you should be looking at other left wingers with high expectations to shore up your fantasy squad.