Making a push to win now, and dealing with substantial prospect depth, the Minnesota Wild went out and acquired a proven veteran scorer from the Buffalo Sabres.
Numbers Game looks at the Wild adding Jason Pominville.
The Wild Get: RW Jason Pominville and a fourth-round pick in 2014.
Pominville, 30, is a versatile and consistent performer who has scored at least 20 goals and 50 points in each of the past six seasons, topping 60 points in five of those seasons.
This year, Pominville has 10 goals and 25 points, with a plus-1 rating while playing a career-high 20:54 per game in 37 games. While the Sabres have struggled as a team, it has been difficult for anyone (perhaps aside from Thomas Vanek) to produce consistently. After opening the season with 14 points in the first 10 games, Pominville has managed 11 points in 27 games since.
Going to Minnesota, Pominville could have an opportunity to move into a first-line spot alongside Mikko Koivu and Zach Parise. It's not as if rookie winger Charlie Coyle hasn't been strong in that spot, but the 21-year-old doesn't have Pominville's track record for point production and Coyle can still use his size and strength even if he's bumped down the depth chart. That is, if that is how the Wild choose to deploy Pominville, who can also play the point on the power play and kill penalties.
With one year remaining on his deal, at a cap hit of $5.3-million, Pominville is fairly priced for his role as a first-line forward, as long as he can produce like a first-line forward. (The Wild are already paying first-line forward money to Dany Heatley, who is not producing like a first-line forward.)
The Wild paid a significant price, in terms of assets, to get Pominville, but it shows a commitment to winning now and is the kind of deal made possible by the Wild's deep crop of prospects. The emergence of goaltender Darcy Kuemper, for example, helped make Hackett expendable, and Minnesota has young forwards like Mikael Granlund and Jason Zucker who are still clamouring for regular roles in the NHL.
The Sabres Get: RW Johan Larsson, G Matt Hackett, a first-round pick in 2013 and second-round pick in 2014.
Larsson is a highly-regarded prospect that the Wild selected in the second round of the 2010 draft. The 20-year-old winger is in his first North American pro season and has 15 goals and 37 points, with an even rating, in 62 AHL games.
He'll have a chance to play in a top-six role for the Sabres and maybe not too far in the future, given the current state of the Sabres' roster.
23-year-old Matt Hackett has been a quality goaltending prospect and is in his third pro season. He's posted a .913 save percentage in 132 AHL games and a .914 save percentage in 13 NHL games with the Wild.
That doesn't mean that he's a sure thing as an NHL goaltender, but he's a very strong insurance policy for the Sabres, who could still consider dealing incumbent starter Ryan Miller in the offseason. Hackett will be a restricted free agent this summer.
Getting a first-round pick from Minnesota, in what is considered a strong draft, is a valuable chip too. If the draft picks yield a future NHLer and even one of Larsson or Hackett becomes an NHL regular, then that's more than a fair return for the Sabres.
It's a tough pill to swallow, dealing away their captain and getting the uncertainty of prospects and picks in return, but if the Sabres are going to rebuild, then moving a 30-year-old veteran for a pair of prospects in their early 20s, plus a couple good draft picks, is a strong package to get in return.
Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.