Defenceman Martin Skoula is off to his second team in less than 24 hours, as the Toronto Maple Leafs flipped him to the New Jersey Devils for a fifth-round selection in this year’s NHL Entry Draft.
The Leafs had acquired Skoula in a three-player deal executed Tuesday, the eve of the NHL’s trade deadline. Toronto picked up Skoula and 21-year-old forward Luca Caputi for winger Alexei Ponikarovsky.
Skoula is in the last year of a contract paying him US$575,000 this season. The 30-year-old was selected in the first round of the 1998 draft by Colorado, and bounced to Anaheim, Dallas and Minnesota before landing in Pittsburgh.
Ponikarovsky had played each of his 477 NHL games with the Leafs. He has 19 goals and 22 assists in 61 games this season.
“I knew it was coming,” Ponikarovsky told TSN Wednesday morning. “I don’t know how to explain it: Even if you’re ready, you kind of mentally have to step over the boards and kind of realize you’re no longer a Maple Leaf and you have to re-set your mind and go to the next club and help them battle for the playoffs and a Stanley Cup.”