Less than 24 hours after our Brian La Rose profiled Jason Pominville’s continued free agent availability, The Athletic’s Marc Antoine Godin has an update on where he might be headed if he’s to continue his NHL career. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Pominville has two routes in mind: staying with the Buffalo Sabres or signing with his hometown Montreal Canadiens. Although Pominville has proven that he is still a capable NHL forward at 36 years old, recording 16 goals and 30+ points in each of the past two season, the veteran forward is well aware that the free agent market is tough and that the NHL is getting younger and faster, but he is not willing to take just any job to keep playing:
There are quite a few players in my situation, they’re not sure if they’re going to play, or if they do they’re not sure where they want to go… As for me, we’ll see. I’m staying in shape, but I’m not going to just jump into any situation. I do it because I love it, and because I know I still can play, but it’s going to have to be the right fit.
That “right fit” for Pominville also includes considering his family. Godin writes that Pominville’s children are at an age now where picking up and moving is not as easy. The family is entrenched in Buffalo and would like to stay there if possible. Of course, the Sabres are already over the salary cap ceiling for the coming season and will have to move a player as is before the season begins. Whether they look to use any space they manage to open up to bring on another player remains to be seen, as does whether Pominville would be a preferred target. The winger has played eleven seasons in Buffalo and contributed over 500 points to the franchise, but that doesn’t ensure continued interest.
As for Montreal, it would be a natural fit for the Quebec native, who still trains in the area during the off-season, and would likely be a more comfortable move for his family. Agent Normand Dupont tells Godin that he feels the Canadiens have not yet replaced Andrew Shaw, who was traded to the Chicago Blackhawks this summer, and feels Pominville could easily take on the two-way veteran forward role. In addition to the need, the Canadiens also have the salary cap space to add Pominville (or an even bigger name actually), so the fit there could exist.
This may not be an exhaustive list of who Pominville would play for next season, but his comments certainly make it seem like he would rather retire that move to an unfamiliar team far from his family at this point in his long career. A return to the Minnesota Wild or a move to other nearby clubs like the Toronto Maple Leafs, Ottawa Senators, or Pittsburgh Penguins could also be on the table for Pominville, even if not mentioned specifically. Only time will tell what the rest of the off-season will bring for the respected veteran, but he can certainly still play if the right opportunity presents itself.