This Year's Ranking: 13
Last Year's Ranking: N/A
For all those Winnipeg Jets fans who were Toronto Maple Leafs fans in the interim between the Jets first NHL team and second NHL team, there must have been alot of groaning going on when the Jets signed another former Maple Leaf player to the fold.
With the likes of Nik Antropov and Kyle Wellwood already up front for the Jets (along with former Leaf Tim Stapleton too), those ex-Leafs fans thought they may be in for Maple Leaf's of the early 2000s 2.0.
Don't fret ex-Leafs/now-Jets fans, that isn't likely.
In fact, with Wellwood having such a career season in his first year – however unlikely it was and is to repeat – the addition of Ponikarovsky may be the best thing for both a slumping Antropov and a red hot Wellwood.
In 82 games split between the Carolina Hurricanes and New Jersey Devils, Ponikarovsky garnered only 33 points (14 goals, 19 assists), which was – surprisingly – a step up from his 15 points in 61 games a year before in Los Angeles – the team he lost to in last spring's Cup Final.
For a former 60 point scorer – 61 points to be precise in 2008-09 in Toronto – his numbers look inconsistent.
As I browse his stats on HockeyDB.com, I am alarmed at that inconsistency but realize that he can more valuable than just a scorer.
Brought in most likely to anchor that third line where Nik Antropov is most likely to play, it will bring about a sense of familiarity with the ex-Leaf teammates and perhaps spark both of them to get back on track stats wise.
Or maybe not.
In my mind, it's a gamble, but not a very risky one.
Ponikarovsky shouldn't be looked to score goals in bunches – he has only three 20 goal seasons (all with Toronto I might add).
At a $1.8 million cap hit, he is a deal compared with Antropov who is set to make $4.75 in the last season of his four year, $16.25 million contract.
And another big body doesn't hurt either.
Witih his addition, there are now 14 players that are 6'1" or taller – and that is not counting both goalies.
I like the simple addition of Ponikarovsky.
For the Jets, unlike the Hurricanes who signed him to a one year, $3.2 million contract, they got a servicable third liner capable of a roof of 20 goals and another player who can play the penalty kill.
It's a win-win with #13 in our list.