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The Alexei Ponikarovsky sweepstakes keeps heating up

Mar 2, 2010, 8:22 PM EDT

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The hockey landscape is currently abuzz with speculation regarding a potential Alexei Ponikarovsky trade after it was announced that the Maple Leafs forward was scratched from tonight’s game against the Carolina Hurricanes.

While a healthy scratch isn’t always a guarantee that a player will be moved, it certainly adds some credibility in what can seem like a Wild West shootout of trade rumors. A handful of teams might be interested in the Ukrainian winger, according to The Fourth Period:
“The Los Angeles Kings, Pittsburgh Penguins and Nashville Predators are among the teams to have serious interest in the 29-year-old.

Various reports suggest the Leafs are looking for a first-round pick in exchange for Ponikarovsky, though it’s believed Burke is willing to accept a second-round pick and a top prospect.”

Is Ponikarovsky worth that price? That’s hard to say. Then again, if Andy Sutton is worth a second round pick then the rules might just get thrown out the window anyway.
On the plus side, Ponikarovsky brings great size (6-4, 220 lbs.), decent skills (typically around 20 goals per year) and is “usually among the most industrious skaters on the ice.” The negative thing is that despite his dirt-cheap annual cap hit of $2.105 million, he is an unrestricted free agent after this season. As usual with the trade deadline, it ultimately comes to whether or not a GM wants to sacrifice a piece of a team’s future for a rental player.
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