In exchange for Ponikarovsky, the Jets landed a seventh-round pick in 2013 and a fourth-rounder in 2014. Winnipeg gave up a seventh-rounder in 2013 for Tangradi.
Ponikarovsky, 32, has played in 648 career NHL games with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Pittsburgh Penguins, Los Angeles Kings, Carolina Hurricanes, and Devils. He's amassed 137 goals and 179 assists in that span — with two goals in 12 games this year — including seven goals and 11 helpers in 33 games for New Jersey during the 2011-12 campaign.
He was originally drafted by the Leafs in the fourth round (87th overall) in 1998.
After being a healthy scratch in eight straight games for the Penguins, Tangradi is getting a change of scenery.
"We went out and acquired [Tangradi] and upon acquiring him we had the opportunity to open up some roster space and some ice time for him," said Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff. "We're very hopeful that he is someone that, given an opportunity to play within our organization, is going to blossom and continue to move forward.
"It was really more about creating an opening and an opportunity for Eric as opposed to anything with Alexei."
The six-foot-four, 221-pound winger was drafted in the second round (42nd overall) by the Anaheim Ducks in 2007 but has struggled to find regular NHL work since joining the Penguins in 2009. The 24-year-old gone pointless in five games so far this year.
Pittsburgh general manager Ray Shero told NHL.com the forward didn't ask to be dealt, but thinks the new situation will benefit the Philadelphia native.
"[The Jets] will put [Tangradi] right on their team and maybe we'll see him Friday [when the Penguins play in Winnipeg]," Penguins general manager Ray Shero told NHL.com. "He was a younger player; he needs to play. He wasn't in our plans moving forward, it would seem. So I think it's the right thing to do."
In 45 career NHL games, Tangradi has one goal and four assists with 26 penalty minutes.
Cheveldayoff had no regrets when asked if the deal with Ponikarovsky was a mistake.
"If you're worried about taking swings and missing you're not going to get up to the plate," said the Jets GM. "You have to try and do some things. Again, there's different reasons why guys are available — age, opportunities, teams looking to use younger players within their organization — so free agency is a time where you look at what's available, you try to fit some needs, some of them fit, some of them don't.
"Alexei is someone we wish all the best."
Winnipeg was 11th place in the Eastern Conference heading into Wednesday night with 11 points.