The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Sports

April 3, 2013

Wild surrender picks, prospects for Pominville

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The Buffalo Sabres have traded captain Jason Pominville to the Minnesota Wild.

The Wild sent prospects Johan Larsson and Matt Hackett plus a first-round draft pick in 2013 and a second-round draft pick in 2014 to the Sabres before the NHL deadline Wednesday, for Pominville and a fourth-round draft pick in 2014.

That’s a high price, but the Wild were willing to part with some assets for a valuable two-way player in their attempt to reach the postseason for the first time in five years. They haven’t won a playoff series since 2003.

Pominville is an eight-year veteran and a six-time 20-goal scorer with significant special teams experience who could join Mikko Koivu and Zach Parise on the Wild’s first line. He played next to Parise in 2008 with the U.S. national team at the world championship.

“We played really well together. I like the way he plays. I think he’s going to help us a lot,” Parise said. “He works hard. I just think you look at the way he’s been used. Power play, penalty kill, reliable. He puts pucks in the net, he makes plays, he gets points. I think he plays a really all-around game. That’s what we’re going to see.”

After signing Parise and defenseman Ryan Suter to mega-contracts last summer, the Wild went all in. They’ve been accumulating an impressive pool of young skaters in their system, so trading Larsson won’t leave their organization bare. Rookies Charlie Coyle and Jason Zucker have been top-six forwards this season, and Mikael Granlund is waiting in the AHL in Houston for a second crack at the lineup.

“It just gives you a sense that they believe in the way we’ve been playing and they believe in our team,” Parise said in San Jose, Calif., before the Wild played the Sharks. “Now it’s up to us to elevate our game even more.”

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