Alexei Ponikarovsky is officially a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins pending a trade call with the league, according to TSN. Pittsburgh sends prospect Luca Caputi and expiring contract Martin Skoula to the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for his services.
Ponikarovsky will be a free agent at the end of this season and it's a strong possibility that he'll just be a rental player for the Penguins. At the same time, he's the perfect compliment to their offense and should fit in quite nicely as they look to defend their Stanley Cup title.
Caputi is a highly touted young prospect who is projected to be a second line forward in the NHL. At just 21 years old, he's had a lot of success at the AHL level and will likely make the jump to the NHL sooner rather than later, and he could even potentially step into the Leafs lineup right away.
With Skoula, the Penguins are happy to get rid of his contract. He has a small cap hit of just $575,000 but he's essentially worthless on that team. TSN's Bob McKenzie is also reporting that the Leafs might try to flip him immediately in another deal.
Frank D, editor at SBN's Pensburgh, summed up his feelings in an email conversation with SB Nation.
I've wanted to see Poni in a Pens uni since it was tossed out as a hypothetical trade a month or so before the deadline. Giving up Luca Caputi, one of [AHL affiliate Wilkes-Barre/Scranton's] leading scorers and likely an NHL-caliber player next season hurts, but getting rid of Skoula in any capacity is an upgrade worthy of another pat on the back for Ray Shero.