A newcomer to the Hurricanes, Alexei Ponikarovsky, whose full name is Oleksiy Volodymyrovych “Alexei” Ponikarovsky (try to pronounce that one) signed with the team for a 1-year, $1.5 million contract in the off-season. He will look to turn around a rather disappointing season last year with the Los Angeles Kings. Last season, Ponikarovsky played only 61 games, registering only 15 points (5G, 10A). Even though he didn’t produce the points the team or many Kings fans wanted, the LA Kings were 39-16-6 with him in the line-up.
The 6’4”, 226-lb Kiev, Ukraine native will be playing for his 4th NHL team this season (TOR, PIT, LAK, CAR) after being drafted in the 4th round (87th overall) by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft. He has been described as a a player who is “difficult to knock off the puck and moves very well for his size,” according to LA Kings Insider. His best seasons as a professional came in Toronto from 2006-2007 to 2009-2010, including his 61-point season in the 2008-2009 campaign. Current Hurricanes’ head coach Paul Maurice was Ponikarovsky’s coach for two of those years, however the Maple Leafs did not make the playoffs either of those seasons. Jay Harrison, Tomas Kaberle and Jiri Tlusty were all teammates of Ponikarovsky during his time in Toronto.
While doing a little research for this post, I stumbled upon this goal from Ponikarovsky against the (formerly) Atlanta Thrashers on January 19th, 2010. Tomas Kaberle, who the Hurricanes also signed during the off-season, sets up Ponikarovsky very nicely on this beauty. As you’ll hear from the play-by-play announcer, he had great statistics against the Thrashers while playing for Toronto (14 goals in 21 games). Will this transfer over for him again this year against the now Winnipeg Jets?
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