May 6, 2011 5:00 pm

Player evaluation: Ponikarovsky

ALEXEI PONIKAROVSKY
This season: 61 games, 5 goals, 10 assists, 36 penalty minutes, 12:36 average ice time.
The good: Ponikarovsky had stretches of games — including an eight-game run in March, in which he had six games — when he showed exactly why the Kings signed him to a $3-million contract last summer. Ponikarovsky, at 6-foot-4, 226 pounds, is difficult to knock off the puck and moves well for his size. At his best, Ponikarovsky showed potential in a third-line role alongside center Michal Handzus and also showed the ability to contribute on the power play and penalty kill.
The bad: Consider that Alexander Frolov, whom Ponikarovsky was supposed to replace, totaled more points (16) in 43 games before tearing up his knee than Ponikarovsky did in 61 games (15 points). Of course, neither total is anything to celebrate, but what happened to Ponikarovsky? Early-season injuries prevented him from getting into a rhythm, but still, the Kings touted Ponikarovsky as a 20-goal scorer and he didn’t even come close.
Going forward: Unless the Kings are somehow convinced that Ponikarovsky is going to up his goal total by 15 over the summer, it’s unlikely that he will be re-signed as an unrestricted free agent this summer. There’s really no way to explain why Ponikarovsky struggled to score so much. He appeared to be giving a good effort, but never got it going. The Kings, most likely, will find a different way to spend their money this summer.

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