The Toronto Maple Leafs have a deal in place to trade forward Alexei Ponikarovsky to the Pittsburgh Penguins for defenceman Martin Skoula and prospect Luca Caputi.
The deal will become final after a trade call with the NHL.
Ponikarovsky was kept out of the line-up as a healthy scratch for Toronto's home game against the Carolina Hurricanes.
Ponikarovsky will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season and is earning $2.5 million this year. The 29-year old native of Kiev, Ukraine, has 19 goals and 22 assists in 61 games this season and is on pace to eclipse his career-high 23 goals set in 2008-09.
Drafted by the Maple Leafs in the 4th round (87th overall) in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft, Ponikarovsky has 114 goals, 143 assists and a plus-56 rating in 477 games with the blue and white.
Ponikarovsky is big at 6'4, 220 and he's an experienced and skilled winger. Giving up Luca Caputi, who's been tearing up the AHL in scoring, is another blow to the organization's depth -- especially if Ponikarovsky walks over the summer. But there's no doubt Poni adds size and skill to Pittsburgh's wing, which is largely seen as the biggest hurdle the team needs.
Ray Shero has never been afraid to pull the trigger on deadline deals, and this is no different. It remains to be seen if Ponikarovsky meshes with Evgeni Malkin or Sidney Crosby, but there's no doubt that when this trade goes through the Penguins will be better on paper than they were before.
UPDATE: Deal is done as reported: Ponikarovsky to Pittsburgh for Caputi and Skoula