PITTSBURGH (AP) — The Pittsburgh Penguins made their second trade in as many days as they look to make another deep playoff run, picking up left wing Alexei Ponikarovsky from the Toronto Maple Leafs for forward Luca Caputi and defenseman Martin Skoula.
Penguins general manager Ray Shero was pleasantly surprised to add a productive wing with good size — Ponikarovsky is 6-foot-4 — without dealing any top-line players.
"I didn't think this was a deal we'd be able to do. If you'd have told me we could do it a few days ago, I'd have said no way," Shero said Tuesday night. "This gives us a chance to be a good team again. I was happy with our team. We didn't have to take anything off our team."
On Monday, the Penguins acquired defenseman Jordan Leopold from the Florida Panthers for a second-round draft pick. He made his Penguins debut during a 3-2 victory over Buffalo on Tuesday.
Ponikarovsky has 19 goals and 41 points in 61 games and needs one more goal for his fourth 20-goal season. He has more goals than any wing currently on the Stanley Cup champion Penguins' roster; Bill Guerin, who plays on Sidney Crosby's line, has 17 goals.
In 477 career games, Ponikarovsky has 114 goals, 143 assists, 257 points and a plus-56 rating. He had 23 goals last season. Ponikarovsky was held out of the Leaf's 5-1 loss to Carolina in Tuesday night before the trade.
"He's a good, hardworking winger who drives to the net hard, he has good size, he's a good player," Penguins forward Ruslan Fedotenko said. "I feel like he's a good addition for us."
Fedotenko, 31, and Ponikarovsky, 29, both grew up in Kiev, Ukraine, and likely will play together on Evgeni Malkin's line.
"Poni could be a guy that fits with that line," Penguins general manager Ray Shero said. "They (Fedotenko and Ponikarovsky) have known each other since they were 5 years old."
Caputi was drafted by the Penguins in the fourth round of the 2007 entry draft. The 21-year-old has 47 points in 54 games with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins of the AHL and one goal and one assist in four games with Pittsburgh.
"Luca was the guy they wanted," Shero said. "We had a long discussion internally. That was not a guy we wanted to trade or looking to trade. But at the end of the day Poni was that guy (Pittsburgh wanted)."
Skoula, 30, has appeared in 33 games with Pittsburgh this season, his 10th in the NHL. He played for Colorado for five seasons and with Minnesota for most of four seasons.
With the Penguins up against the salary cap for weeks — they've constantly moved players between the minors and the NHL to stay under — Shero is pessimistic about adding any more players before the 3 p.m. EST trading deadline Wednesday.
Ponikarovsky will count about $480,000 against the salary cap for the rest of the season.