ST. PAUL, Minn. — The high price to acquire forward Jason Pominville at the trade deadline last season has come into full context for the Minnesota Wild.
Minnesota sent two prized prospects, a 2013 first-round pick and a 2014 second-rounder to the Buffalo Sabres at the trade deadline last season to acquire Pominville, the Sabres’ captain and a six-time 20-goal scorer.
The Wild softened the blow of dealing the young assets by signing Pominville to a five-year contract extension Thursday, hours before the season opener against the Los Angeles Kings. Pominville was signed through this season, but is now with the team through the 2018-19 season.
Several media outlets report the extension to be worth $28 million, an average of $5.6 million per year. The 30-year-old Pominville, who is scheduled to make $5.5 million in 2013-14, has 189 goals and 276 assists and a plus-41 rating in 588 games over nine seasons in the NHL.
Pominville’s acquisition last season was hopeful to propel the Wild into the playoffs last year. He had four goals and five assists in his first 10 games in Minnesota, but suffered a concussion and missed the rest of the regular season. He returned for the playoffs, but wasn’t the same.
Pominville was back this season, healthy, and playing on the team’s first line with Zach Parise and Mikko Koivu.
“It’s so much better,” Pominville said during training camp. “First you get to know the guys a little bit better. I think I got here last year, we were entrenched in battling for playoff position and you get thrown into games, where I remember my first game in L.A., we were up on the chalkboard saying, ‘this is what we play, the way we play and just go out there and play.’ Now it’s a little bit better.
“And last year with the way the schedule was, we didn’t really have many good practices. It was mostly morning skate, play, morning skate, play. So, this year is nice to be able to get to know the guys, to get to know the systems a little bit better and feel more comfortable for sure.”
Pominville, a 2012 All-Star, was hopeful to have an extension in place before the season and agreed to the new deal on opening day. The Wild face Los Angeles at home and forward Dustin Brown, whose hit on Pominville last year caused the concussion.
Matt Hackett, 23, and Johan Larsson, 20, were prized pieces of a Minnesota system that was ranked No. 3 by The Hockey News in its annual “Future Watch” edition in March 2013. Hackett was ranked No. 5 in the Wild’s system followed by Larsson at No. 6.
“Players like Jason aren’t readily available,” Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher said after the trade. “That’s why we paid a significant price in terms of assets in acquiring him. Obviously, Buffalo felt they needed to move in a different direction and when I spoke to (Buffalo general manager Darcy Regier) and found out he might be available, we were aggressive in our pursuit of him. It’s not every day, again, that you can find a guy who’s a captain in the NHL, that has scored 30 goals and is responsible defensively. We feel he’s a very good fit for our team in terms of talent and character and clearly he’ll make us a better team.”
Pominville has scored 30 or more goals twice, and is tied for 19th in assists and 26th in scoring since the start of the 2007-08 season. He’s also been durable, playing in 530 games since the start of the 2006-07 season, tied for ninth in the league over that span.
Pominville had 10 goals and 15 assists for Buffalo last season before being acquired by the Wild. In 2011-12, he had 30 goals and 43 assists while playing in all 82 games.