ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — The Minnesota Wild paid a hefty price last season to pry Jason Pominville away from the Buffalo Sabres in a trade. They paid an even bigger one to keep him.
The Wild signed Pominville to a five-year, $28 million extension Thursday, ensuring that the versatile forward will not become a free agent after the season. The Star Tribune of Minneapolis first reported the terms of the deal, which came hours before the Wild opened the regular season against the Los Angeles Kings.
“We can say that this is home now,” Pominville told reporters at the team’s morning skate.
Needing a boost to their grind-it-out offense last season, Wild GM Chuck Fletcher made the bold move of parting with two of the franchise’s top young players — goalie Matt Hackett and forward Johan Larsson — along with a future first-round pick and a second-round pick to get the 2012 All-Star from the Sabres.
Pominville had four goals and five assists in just 10 games during the regular season for the Wild before a concussion put him on the shelf. He played sparingly in the team’s first-round playoff loss to Chicago, but was healthy and sharp during his action with the team this preseason.
The signing only increases the expectations for a team that was no doubt disappointed by the one-and-done appearance in the postseason last year. Wild owner Craig Leipold has now committed significant money to defenseman Ryan Suter, forward Zach Parise and Pominville, all with the idea that this team will become a force in the newly aligned Central Division.
“You see some of the players we’re starting to attract, some of the young players that are coming in, it’s very promising,” Wild coach Mike Yeo said to reporters at Xcel Energy Center. “And more importantly, when you have a player like that who makes the commitment to stay with the organization, that shows, No. 1, that they believe you’re going in the right direction and they want to be part of it.”
Pominville had stated that he wanted to get the deal done before the season began so the issue didn’t linger while he was playing.
“We’re fortunate to get it done and hopefully we can add some more pieces to the puzzle to make it even better,” Pominville said.
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