New Jersey Devils

BREAKING: Ponikarovsky to join Kovalchuk in KHL

This just in – Alexei Ponikarovsky has signed a contract with SKA St. Petersburg of the KHL, the same team that Ilya Kovalchuk left to play for earlier this summer. The contract is a 2-year deal for an undisclosed amount of money. He is the fourth player this offseason to sign a contract with a KHL team, and the second from the Devils.

This will be his second time playing with a team in the KHL. The first was during the lockout this past winter, where he joined the HC Donbass and scored 18 points in 32 games. Before that, Ponikarovsky played in the RSL with both Dynamo Moscow and Khimik Moscow Oblast, tallying a grand total of 7 points in 38 games.

The veteran winger credits Kovalchuk with this fresh-off-the-presses signing. “We spent the summer together, abroad, so he told me a lot about SKA,” he explains, elaborating, “It is a very good organization. The atmosphere in the arena is very close to the NHL.”

This loss stings for the Devils, as this is the second player in just this offseason to pack their bags and head to St. Petersburg. And since they elected not to resign either Steve Sullivan or Matt D’Agostini, they are now down a winger.

Although the signings of Clowe, Ryder, and Olesz are all noted, Ponikarovsky was a big body as well as a great puck moving player. Disappointingly, the Devils can no longer have what I had lovingly nicknamed the “Russian line”, which was made up of Ilya Kovalchuk, Andrei Lokitonov, and Ponikarovsky (who is actually Ukranian).

I would say that our latest departure’s career was successful, and he definitely came through at important times. He played in 678 games, and over that time racked up 323 points. In addition, he totaled 19 points in 68 Stanley Cup Playoff contests. The Ukrainian native had two separate stints with the Devils – one where he was acquired mid-season from the Carolina Hurricanes in 2012, and went with the team on its journey to the Finals. The other was after he signed with the Winnipeg Jets in free agency, and was traded back to the Devils at the beginning of the shortened season.

Good luck in Russia, Poni. Treat our ex-superstar well!

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