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Jets trade Ponikarovsky for draft picks

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Alexei Ponikarovsky’s stint as a Winnipeg Jet lasted all of 12 games.

The club announced Wednesday night it has traded the 32-year-old winger to the New Jersey Devils in exchange for a seventh-round draft pick in 2013 and a fourth-round pick next year. That move came a few hours after the Jets had acquired forward Eric Tangradi from the Pittsburgh Penguins for a seventh-round pick this year.

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Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff said the two moves are linked to one another.

"Upon acquiring (Tangradi) we had the opportunity to open up some roster space and some ice time for him," said Cheveldayoff in a conference call. "He’s 24 years old and we’re very hopeful that he’s someone that, given an opportunity to play in our organization, is going to blossom.

"It was really more about creating an opening and opportunity for Eric as opposed to anything with Alexei."

Ponikarovsky was signed as a free agent by the Jets last summer in the hopes his size and productivity – he averaged better than 20 goals during a five-year stretch from 2005-06 to 2009-10 – would give the club more punch up front. But he managed just two goals and zero assists this season primarily as a third-liner player.

Asked if the Ponikarovsky signing last summer would be called a free agent swing and miss, Cheveldayoff added:

"If you’re worried about taking swings and missing, you’re not going to get up to the plate. You have to try and do some things… Free agency is a time where you look at what’s available, you try and fit some needs and some of them fit and some of them don’t."

Ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @WFPEdTait

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