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Penguins acquire Alex Ponikarovsky from Leafs

by John McGourty
Two days, two deals for the Pittsburgh Penguins.

One day after bringing in defenseman Jordan Leopold from Florida, Pittsburgh GM Ray Shero acquired forward Alex Ponikarovsky from the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday night. Defenseman Martin Skoula and minor-league forward Luca Caputi are headed to the Leafs.

On Monday, the Penguins acquired Leopold for a second-round pick in the 2010 Entry Draft.

Ponikarovsky did not dress for Toronto's 5-1 home loss to Carolina at the Air Canada Centre on Tuesday night.

Ponikarovsky, 29, like Leopold, will be a free agent in July. The Kiev, Ukraine, native has 19 goals and 44 points in 61 games this season and is plus-5 with 44 penalty minutes. The Maple Leafs' fourth-round pick (No. 87) in the 1998 Entry Draft has 114 goals and 143 assists for 257 points in 477 NHL games and is plus-56 with 318 penalty minutes. He has 19 power-play goals and 12 game winners.

Ponikarovsky's plus-56 rating on a team that hasn't made the playoffs in the prime of his career can't be ignored, nor can his 6-foot-4, 229-pound frame.

Shero is hoping these deals are as successful as the moves he made a year ago, primarily the acquisitions of Chris Kunitz from the Anaheim Ducks and Bill Guerin from the New York Islanders. Those two joined Sidney Crosby on Pittsburgh's top line and combined with him for 60 points in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Caputi, 21, was the Penguins' fourth-round pick (No. 111) in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft. A pure shooter, he had 51 goals and 111 points for the 2007-08 OHL Niagara Ice Dogs. He joined AHL Wilkes-Barre for the 2008 Calder Cup Playoffs and helped them to the final with four goals and four assists in 19 playoff games. The Penguins were defeated in six games by the Chicago Wolves.

Caputi is in his second full season with Wilkes-Barre and has 23 goals and 47 points in 54 games, second on the Baby Pens. He also had a goal and an assist with Pittsburgh in a four-game callup after getting a goal in five games with the Pens last season. Caputi, a Toronto native, is 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds.

Skoula, 30, who signed with Pittsburgh just before the start of the season, is 3-5-8 in 33 games, but has been a healthy scratch for much of the season.

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