Just hours after it became official that Alexander Frolov was a New York Ranger; the Kings made their first acquisition of the off-season signing winger Alexei Ponikarovsky to a one-year deal worth $3.2 million.
The 30-year old Ukrainian-born Ponikarovsky is almost a mirror-image of Frolov. Poni, similar to Fro, is as streaky as they come. He'll show glimpses of world-class talent only to disappear for weeks at a time. His inconsistent play frustrated Leafs management and fans alike. The Pittsburgh Penguins outbid a number of teams for Ponikarovsky at last season's trade deadline to lineup with Sidney Crosby only to have Poni disappear and be a healthy scratch during the playoffs.
Poni isn't nearly as skilled as Frolov but Poni is a better defensive player. Poni's 6'4 frame adds size up front and he definitely likes to hit more than Frolov. He'll help the Kings cycle the puck in the offensive zone; four-20 goal seasons prove that he's got a nose for the net.
Here's what Poni had to say about the Kings. Per Helene.
"Kings were trying to bring me in at trade deadline but it didn't work out...I knew they still had interest in me. With the the Kovalchuk situation everything was on hold but they came to me and said they want to see me in their lineup."
Poni is a nice complimentary player but he's just that. A complimentary player. He's another fringe second-line player who joins a battle with Smyth, Williams, Parse, Brown and Simmonds to battle it out for the chance to skate on the first-line with Kopitar. With that said, the Kings still have a gapping hole in their top-six. The Kings forward core looks decent but how much better does it look with Frolov AND Ponikarovsky? Terry Murray's head would have exploded having to deal with both of them but still...
I'm going to continue to rally for a Paul Kariya-Teemu Selanne reunion in Los Angeles.
PREDICTIONS for the 2010-11 season
Ponikarovsky- (17 G- 29 A- 46 PTS)- I don't see Poni getting the same opportunities in L.A. that he did in Toronto. He'll play on the second and third lines for most of the year; assuming that Smyth stays relatively healthy.
Frolov- (36 G- 44 A- 80 PTS)- Call me crazy but I think Frolov is going to do wonders in New York playing first-line minutes with Marian Gaborik. A few Kings fans think that Rangers Head Coach John Tortorella won't be much of a fan of Frolov's inconsistent play. I'm of the belief that once Frolov gets some top-line minutes again; his game will take off.