Minnesota Wild are Stuck With Pominville and His Lower Prodcution

It’s shaping up to be another disappointing season for Wild forward Jason Pominville.  It seems that the spark he showed at the end of last season has gone out and the Wild might be stuck with a mediocre version of the once great scorer.

Optimistic, was what most of the State of Hockey was with regards to Jason Pominville entering this season.  The recent struggles of the last 2-3 seasons for the veteran Minnesota Wild forward have been well documented.  So many had hoped that after the final games of last season and the playoffs that Pommer would turn things around and be back to his old points producing self.

Alas that seems not to have happened this season.  Sure there have been flashes of brilliance, but they have been so few and far between.  For example if you haven’t been paying attention, Pominville since the beginning of December has only tallied 4 assists in 15 games and is a dismal -3 in plus/minus.

He had been playing on the top line with Parise and Staal until three days ago when Bruce Boudreau decided to swap him to the 4th line in favor of a resurgent Jordan Schroeder to play on the top line.  This move was largely downplayed by Boudreau as a move to get the right player to be on the top line with Staal and Parise, but it seems as if the promotion to the 4th line has more to do with Pominville’s impact on the scoresheet than chemistry of the top line.

Michael Russo of the Star Tribune asked Pominville about being on the 4th line after Tuesday’s practice.  He seems to be taking an approach that his struggles are on him, but that things will change as they do.  “It’s just a [practice] jersey color. It’s a long season. Things will change. Lines won’t stay the same. I’ve just got to keep worrying about my game, and that’s it.”

Nov 29, 2016; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Vancouver Canucks defenseman Philip Larsen (63) battles for the puck against Minnesota Wild forward Jason Pominville (29) during the second period at Rogers Arena. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

While those are words you’d expect to hear from a veteran who has played 12 NHL seasons, it really doesn’t put one’s mind at ease when he hasn’t seen a shot hit the back of the net in 15 games.  It just seems that Pominville’s streaky lower production has become the norm rather than the exception.

At age 34 it safe to say that his production will more than likely not return the 60 to 70 point range like we saw out of him in his prime days.  Eric Staal at 32 has managed a career renaissance, but it just seems that Pominville won’t be capable of that or else we would have seen it by now.

The simple truth is the Wild are stuck with him and will have to accept him as is now.  They can’t trade his contract which has a gaudy cap hit of $5.6 million for the next three seasons.  No one will want to take that high price of a gamble on a player who is struggling to muster over 35 points in a season.

A buyout is also not possible at this time.  Even with two years remaining on his contract after this season, the issue is next season Pominville is due a $2.5 million signing bonus which makes a buyout counterproductive this offseason.  The problem is that his contract is “buyout-proof” next season as his signing bonus is excluded in the equation when determining the total buyout cost, and are included in the Annual Average Salary (AAV) value when determining the remaining caphit.   In plain English his signing bonus reduces the buyout caphit savings for the Wild to where if they did buy him out they’d only gain $1.25 million of cap space.

Also with two years remaining on his contract the Wild would pay dead cap money for two seasons in the amount of $2.5 million over two seasons.  If the Wild wait till the summer of 2018 they would see an immediate cap space savings of $3.3 million and only pay one season of dead cap money for $1.6 million.

Bottom line is it seems the Wild are stuck with Pominville till at least the summer of 2018.  So, we’d all better root for him to get better because he’s not going anywhere.  I’ve always been a believer that he’s got something left in the tank, but as the days go by that seems less and less likely.  Let’s hope he finds that something left soon.

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