This weekend marks the public’s first look at Alexei Ponikarovsky in a Kings uniform. Ponikarovsky, who signed a one-year, $3-million contract in July, is expected to play a third-line left-wing role alongside center Michal Handzus and right winger Wayne Simmonds.
Ponikarovsky has totaled at least 20 goals in four of his six full NHL seasons, and if he can reach that level again, and provide solid play on his own end as a member of the Kings’ best defensive line, the investment will be worth it.
“He’s a big man who gets up and down the ice very well,” Terry Murray said of Ponikarovsky, who measures 6-foot-4 and 229 pounds. “He is, I think, a good complement to the line with Handzus and Simmonds. You see him battling along the boards, puck possession and separating man from the puck. He’s got the size and the strength and he knows how to use that. He’s a great addition to what we need to continue to push.”
Handzus gave a solid review of his first linemate after their first day on the ice together.
“I think he’s a really good addition for us,” Handzus said. “He’s fast and he’s strong and he’s got a great shot. I really liked what I saw (Saturday).”