Friday, September 15, 2017

Building the 2017-18 Buffalo Sabres roster--RW, Jason Pominville

Published by, 9-14-2017

Jason Pominville
34 yrs. old
6'0" 180 lbs.
2001, 2nd round (55th-overall)
Re-acquired by Buffalo from the Minnesota Wild on June 30, 2017

Career stats:  905 games  |  261 goals  |  401 assists  |  662 points  |  +65

One by one, then Buffalo Sabres GM Darcy Regier was trading away his veteran players beginning in 2012. Core players Paul Gaustad and Derek Roy were traded that year then prior to the 2013 NHL trade deadline, veteran defensemen Jordan Leopold and Robyn Regehr were traded away. The change everyone in Buffalo had been clamoring for had begun but up until the April 3, 2012 trade deadline, there hadn't been an earth-shattering trade at the foot of Washington Street. However, that would change with a bombshell that clearly announced the Sabres were stripping away the core and heading into full rebuild-mode as on that day the Sabres traded team captain Jason Pominville to the Minnesota Wild.

Pominville was drafted by Buffalo in 2001 with the 55th-overall pick and was waived by the team at the beginning of the 2005-06 season after scoring 78 goals and adding 89 assists in 217 games for the Rochester Americans, but cleared and was sent minors. He joined the Sabres in the middle of that season and tallied 30 points (18+12) in 57 games leaving fans to wonder a.) why did the Sabres expose him to waivers? and b.) why didn't anyone claim him?

The 6'0" 280 lb. Repentigny, Quebec native ended up having a steady 578-game career in with the Sabres that included dependable play where he missed only nine games in his first full six seasons. Pominville also turned into a very consistent offensive contributor that never scored less than 20 goals or had less than 52 points those years before the trade. In 2011-12, his last full season in Buffalo, he had a career-high 73 points (30+43.) He also had a fan club in the stands with young girls holding "Marry Me" signs and even his own "Population of Pominville" section on the 300 level.

However, despite how popular and respected he was, the Sabres were going through a complete rebuild in 2013, no veteran player was safe and he was moved for quite the bounty. Regier was able to get a 2013 first round pick, a 2014 second round pick and prospects Johan Larsson and Matt Hackett for Pominville and a 2014 fourth-rounder.

Those Minnesota years are now over for Pominville with his return to Buffalo as the secondary part of a trade that brought defenseman Marco Scandella to the Sabres. The Wild needed to clear his $5.6 million cap-hit for the next two seasons so Pominville became a necessary piece in the deal. He finished the Wild portion of his career with 76 goals and 130 assists in 327 games.

Pominville Is now 34 yrs. old and the days of him playing a full-time, top-six role are pretty much over. But he's still very capable of filling in on the top-six when necessary while taking a regular spot playing third-line minutes. And he can continue playing an all-around game with time on the second powerplay unit and contributing to the penalty kill.

Buffalo did Minnesota a favor by taking on Pominville's salary, but if they wanted Scandella, that was the deal. However, GM Jason Botterill was asked by's Brian Duff if it was "fair to say that this isn't just a case of trading numbers to make the salary cap work."

"Without a doubt," replied Botterill about Pominville being a benefit to the club. "You look at what he produced even-strength last year without huge minutes (13 goals, 27 assists) and we all know his success on the powerplay, whether first unit or second unit, he's going to bring an element there.

"And just from a pure leadership standpoint," continued Botterill, "knowing this organization, knowing this city and the passion-level for the Sabres, I think he's going to fit in extremely well. Jason's not the most vocal guy, but just his mannerisms, preparing for practice, preparing for games, and his work ethic I think will add to our culture here."

So true.

Pominville exudes professionalism on the ice and in the dressing room, not unlike Ryan O'Reilly, and it wouldn't be surprising to see either or both of them with a letter sewn on their sweater. Will Pominville wear a 'C' like when the Sabres traded him?

Sure, it's possible, maybe even probable if the team is looking for him to fill the same role that departed captain Brian Gionta had last season. Gionta proved to be somewhat ageless while playing the third-line right wing role for the Sabres and finished seventh on the team in scoring with 15 goals and 20 assists in 82 games. He lead the team with the same style and leadership characteristics we find in Pominville.

It's not that hard to fathom Pominville with a letter, but one would think that the Sabres might be ready to move on from that quiet, professional, aged veteran wearing the 'C' while looking to the future with a younger player as captain. Maybe the 26 year old O'Reilly or even going all in with 20 yr. old Jack Eichel.

Regardless of who's wearing letters, Pominville will always be Pominville and he's going to be a great influence on the youngins and how they approach the game both on and off the ice.

That's a good thing.

For (probably) the next two seasons we'll be seeing him ply his trade on the right side of the forward group taking players like Sam Reinhart, Johan Larsson, Evan Rodrigues, Nicolas Baptiste and C.J. Smith under his wing and teaching them the finer points of playing the game. They'll be able to learn a lot from him and one would think that the Sabres will be a better team because of it.

Building the 2017-18 Buffalo Sabres roster:

LW, Evander Kane / C, Jack Eichel / RW, Sam Reinhart
LW, Benoit Pouliot / C, Ryan O'Reilly / RW, Kyle Okposo
LW, Evan Rodrigues / C, Johan Larsson / RW, Jason Pominville

D, Marco Scandella / D, Rasmus Ristolainen
D, Jake McCabe / D, Zach Bogosian

G, Robin Lehner

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