Heading into the trade deadline general manager Ray Shero's hands were tied to the salary cap. He had to be careful about who and what to acquire. So defenseman Jordan Leopold and forward Alexei Ponikarovsky came in, and "sadly" Martin Skoula went goodbye.
#4 / Defenseman / Pittsburgh Penguins
Aug 03, 1980
Contract status: Impending UFA (made $1.75m in 2009-10)
|2009 - Jordan Leopold||81||11||15||26||-2||28||1||0||3||0||95||11.6|
Interesting stat: Leopold's 10 even strength goals tied him for first in the NHL amongst full-time defensemen (with Lubomir Visnovsky and Ian White) in the 2009-10 season. Even more of a twist -- all three of those players were traded mid-season.
The Good: Jordan Leopold added another defenseman who could skate and move the puck well, and during the regular season he came as advertised, when he played 20:26 for the Penguins in the regular season and in all capacities too. In the 20 games he spent regular season, he scored 4 goals, more than the other trade deadline pickup!
The Bad: Andy "The Expert" Sutton's hit on Leopold in Game 2 of the first round basically ended Leopold's season. Though Leopold returned for the last six games of the run, he played just 17:42 per game (compared to the 19:31 he played in Game 1, or the 20:26 average from the season). Perhaps understandably, Leopold wasn't quite himself after the concussion. Not that he was bad, but it definitely took the wind out of his sails.
Final verdict: Leopold did exactly what he was brought into do before he suffered an injury. Can't ask for much more than that. It was a quick peak at what he can bring a team, and I think he acquitted himself well.
Question and debate: Currently the Pens have only 3 tried-and-true NHL defensemen on the roster next season, would you like to see them act to bring back Leopold? What if it came down to afford retaining either Leopold or fellow UFA Mark Eaton, which would you prefer?
|2009 - Alexei Ponikarovsky||77||21||29||50||-1||61||5||0||1||0||184||11.4|
Interesting stat: After scoring a goal in his first game as a Penguin, Ponikarovsky only scored 2 more the next 26 games.
The Good: Ponikarovsky added size to Evgeni Malkin's line. He came over in a trade from Toronto and seemed to find a groove, in his first 12 games he recorded 2 goals and 7 assists and was fitting in. Then in the home finale, Poni boarded Josh Bailey and got a 2 game suspension and from then out it was all down hill.
The Bad: He was a non-factor in the post-season, eventually becoming a healthy scratch and reportedly even blew off his end of season meeting with Penguin brass. Ponikarovsky was brought in for post-season play, despite not having any playoff games after the lockout, and it was obvious that he never got comfortable when the stakes were the highest.
Final verdict: When it comes to trade deadline acqusitions; you win some, you lose some and this trade has to go in Ray Shero's loss column, no matter what happens with Luca Caputi's career. Ponikarovsky was brought in to make a difference and help provide the Penguins with a top six scoring winger and he failed to do it.
Question and debate: Any chance you'd see Ponikarovsky back? Before you immediately snap no, he's been a consistent 20 goal, 30+ assist guy after the lockout and that's production the Penguins just don't have in their ranks from wingers.