LEAFS CLOSE TO SENDING PONIKAROVSKY TO PENGUINS

TSN.CA STAFF

The Toronto Maple Leafs have a deal in place to trade forward Alexei Ponikarovsky to the Pittsburgh Penguins for defenceman Martin Skoula and prospect Luca Caputi.

The deal will become final after a trade call with the NHL.

Ponikarovsky was kept out of the line-up as a healthy scratch for Toronto’s home game against the Carolina Hurricanes.

Ponikarovsky will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season and is earning $2.5 million this year. The 29-year old native of Kiev, Ukraine, has 19 goals and 22 assists in 61 games this season and is on pace to eclipse his career-high 23 goals set in 2008-09.

Drafted by the Maple Leafs in the 4th round (87th overall) in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft, Ponikarovsky has 114 goals, 143 assists and a plus-56 rating in 477 games with the blue and white.

Skoula, 30, has three goals and five assists in 33 games for the Penguins this season. The veteran blueliner will be joining his fifth NHL club after being drafted in the first round (17th overall) by the Colorado Avalanche in the 1998 draft. He also skated for Anaheim, Dallas, and Minnesota before signing a one-year contract with the Penguins as an unrestricted free agent last summer.

Skoula is again eligible to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. He is earning $575,000 this season.

http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=312141