POMINVILLE, MINNESOTA ... NOT POMINVILLE, NEW YORK
Before hearing the full details of the trade, it sounded like the Minnesota Wild hit a homerun by getting Jason Pominville (plus a fourth-round pick) from Buffalo. When it was clear that Buffalo nabbed a nice prospect in Johan Larsson, a first-round pick and a second-round pick (plus fairly interesting netminder Matt Hackett), it made me wonder why Buffalo didn't fire sale. That’s a pretty dizzying array of elements to receive, even if Pominville’s under contract through 2013-14.
Beyond that Buffalo bevy of futures, it brings up some serious questions about the Wild’s upcoming summer. One can only assume that Dany Heatley will receive a compliance buyout when you consider that Niklas Backstrom, Matt Cullen and Cal Clutterbuck are among those who need new deals.
Enough about that - aside from making an extra mental note that Backstrom and Cullen are in contract years, if you haven’t already - let’s get to Pominville.
When looking at Pominville, I couldn’t help but think: “This is the guy they probably hoped Dany Heatley would be,” aside from the fact that he boasts the added benefit of having a right-handed shot.
Pominville has two explosive seasons (73 points last year, 80 points in 2007-08), but through peaks and valleys, he's getting at least 20 goals in a full season. He's done that in all but one of his seasons of steady play, and even when he played in 57 games in 05-06, he fell just short with 18.
While he's not particularly useful in most peripherals - although his plus/minus could get rejuvenated on a better team with world class linemates - he fits the sniper profile of getting approximately three shots per game.
I’d expect a slight-to-nice bump from his 25 points in 37 game 2013 pace because ... (see the section below)
Once the trade went down, it seemed like one of two players would face the highest odds of being impacted negatively by Pominville joining the Wild population: Dany Heatley and Charlie Coyle.
Heatley has been Mikko Koivu and Zach Parise’s linemate quite a bit, but lately, Coyle’s gotten the call. Heatley can now be eliminated from the equation after Marc-Edouard Vlasic’s slash from Wednesday seemingly put him on the mend for what coach Mike Yeo believes will be (ominous music) “some time.”
While Coyle brings a right-handed shot to the table and the Wild might opt to spread out their offense,* I think the young winger’s eight points in 25 games just doesn’t make the argument needed to dissuade the Wild from loading up with a Parise-Koivu-Pominville top trio.
Admit it, just reading those names in succession sounds like danger for opposing defenses. Who knows how good the Wild really are, but they got a lot scarier on Wednesday.
Well, for the next few months, at least.
Whether Filip Forsberg pans out or not, the first-rounder’s name will be associated with trades that seemed really lopsided in a would-be-desperate team’s favor. The Washington Capitals decided they didn’t want to roll with Semyon Varlamov, so they got a killer package from Colorado that included the pick that would be Forsberg. This time around, Martin Erat asked out of Nashville, so the Predators were up against the wall and received ... the type of prospect they usually miss out on because they’ve become a regular playoff team.
Now, there’s always the chance that Forsberg was traded for a reason; he slipped ever-so-slightly to the Caps at No. 11 in 2012, so maybe something’s amiss. Still, it seems like David Poile made such delicious lemonade out of Erat’s lemons that he must have cheated by spiking it.
Either way, that talk is moot for now, even if Forsberg plays a bit at the NHL level this season. The real question revolves around Erat’s value.
MEDIUM FISH IN A SMALL POND
I’m a lifelong New York Giants fan, which means that my childhood years revolved around terrible teams featuring running back Rodney Hampton. For some reason, an interesting parallel popped into my head for Erat: Chris Calloway.
I’ll never forget that when the Giants had a new coaching staff roll in, they eventually allowed Calloway to go despite regularly leading the team in receiving.** How could they let their top WR go?
Well, because Calloway wasn’t very good; he was just the least bad guy on a team full of guys who weren’t there yet, were past their prime or would never have a prime. Erat was a go-to guy for the Predators in many situations like that, but with emerging forwards like Gabriel Bourque, Colin Wilson and Craig Smith, the writing’s on the wall.
Still, Erat isn’t as done as Calloway (who had about 800 yards in the four seasons after leaving New York ... combined). He’s also likely to line up with Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom - don’t cross your fingers to the point of injury there - on the first line or Mike Ribeiro on the second.
My guess is that Erat lines up with Ribeiro and Troy Brouwer while Brooks Laich gets pumped to his should-be role as a useful third-line center.
Ribeiro’s the kind of playmaker who can give Erat a real boost, even if the Czech-born winger hardly qualifies as a “sniper.” My concern is that he’s not a great peripheral guy, so he’s just there for point potential.
Not the worst option, but he’s no Victor Cruz, either.
Jump for a roundup of the rest in this jam-packed Dose.
* - One can see the wisdom of looking at the team as a series of duos: Koivu-Parise, Cullen-Devin Setoguchi and Pominville-Kyle Brodziak. Not saying I’d do that, but there’s an argument.
** - The fact that he was a guy who maxed out at 849 yards in one season says a lot about how a) plodding the Giants were back then and b) how much football has changed, passing-wise. It’s especially funny to look at the players who were just behind Calloway in receiving yards in 1998. (Well, it’s funny if you’re a Giants fan whose hopes were eventually pinned to the exploits of Tiki Barber and Amani Toomer.)