The Minnesota Wild have employed Jason Pominville for only six months and 10 regular season games, but team management loves what it has seen, signing the veteran right winger to a five-year, $28-million contract extension Thursday morning.
The 30-year-old was slated to be an unrestricted free agent next summer – and while he received only a moderate raise (jumping from an average annual cap hit of $5.3 million per season to $5.6 million starting next year), Pominville clearly placed a higher premium on term. His previous contract with the Sabres also was a five-year pact – and when he hits the open market again in 2019, it’s unlikely he’ll receive anywhere close to this type of security.
Why commit so quickly to Pominville if you’re Wild GM Chuck Fletcher? A few reasons: The player is still in his prime – his 14 goals in 47 games split between Buffalo and Minnesota last year kept him close to his 30-goal pace from 2011-12 – and in those initial 10 games after coming over at the trade deadline, Pominville produced at nearly a point-per-game level (four goals and nine points).
Pominville has the speed and skill to keep up with the Wild’s stable of young, growing talent. Essentially, he’s Matt Cullen for a new generation. And if Fletcher hadn’t moved to extend him, Pominville would have been Minnesota’s most attractive unrestricted free agent after this season.
All things considered, a solid deal for a solid contributor.