At age 29 in the final year of his contract and in the prime of his career, Alex Ponikarovsky was given a late Christmas present after being traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins Tuesday night.
Ponikarovsky who is coming off of a 61 point season and a goal away from his fourth 20 goal season in his last five years, has a golden opportunity in Pittsburgh playing alongside Evgeni Malkin or Sidney Crosby.
Set to become a free agent at seasons end, it is now up to Ponikarovsky to make the most of his opportunity.
A strong showing in Pittsburgh will have Ponikarovsky’s market value sky rocket and there’s no question Ponikarovsky will be highly motivated in Pittsburgh.
Ponikarovsky who had a strong interest in staying in Toronto, presented Leafs management through his agent with a four year extension worth $14.5 million in early February. The Leafs balked at the term of the deal.
A league evaluator says at this conjecture, Ponikarovsky’s market value is currently in the four year – $12-14 million range.
Landing in Pittsburgh and doing well will guarantee Ponikarovsky getting at least a Nik Antropov contract (4 years – $16.5 million) on the open market.
It’s a golden opportunity for Ponikarovsky but the puck is now on his stick.