Jason Pominville is cautiously optimistic about his future with the Buffalo Sabres.
The 36-year-old unrestricted free agent has been around the league long enough to know that his next contract could take some time, or might not happen at all, and he’s okay with that.
"You realize it might be close to the end, so you definitely think about it," Pominville shared with Lance Lysowski of the Buffalo News. "I’ve had time to reflect and see how I feel and see how the body feels. I think it’s clear in my mind that if something pops up that is a good opportunity and makes sense family-wise I would definitely consider it for sure. If not, I’m fine with the way things ended."
Although Pominville still committed his off-season to training, and admitted he feels confident to perform at the highest level, his priorities have shifted.
Pominville is family-focused, stating that whatever comes next in his hockey career can’t come at the expense of losing time with his loved ones. He’s not ready to uproot his life for what could be a one-year contract.
"I want my family to feel comfortable with the situation” he said. “It’s not easy for them. They’ve had to deal with a couple moves and all that. They’re comfortable here. We’ll have to make a decision if it comes up. I think my priorities are with them right now."
Luxuries like helping his son Jayden’s Buffalo Junior Sabres' under 10-team, and attending gymnastics meets for his daughter Kaylee, are at reach with his stable life in Buffalo. Lysowski added that “Pominville has heard from teams, but he said there hasn't been an opportunity he would ‘hop on right away.’”
With the RFA signing holdup creating cap-space uncertainty across the NHL, it puts veteran players like Pominville in a unique and unsettling situation. One would imagine the Sabres are trying to find a spot for a player that has been an integral part of their organization for the better part of 10 seasons.
Pominville was drafted 55th overall by Buffalo in 2001, and made an immediate impact when he was called up in the 2005-06 season. His rookie debut helped the Sabres get within one win of the Stanley Cup Final. During that playoff run, Pominville led all rookies with 10 points, and scored the shorthanded, series-clinching overtime goal against the Ottawa Senators in Game 5 of the second round.
His storied tenure with the Sabres included the team captaincy, a finalist nod for the Lady Byng, NHL All-Star, and his career-high 80 point season.
Pominville is maintaining optimism, while at the same time admitting the need for realism.
“I’m kind of realistic. Look at the forwards, look at the D,” he said. “There are quite a few bodies. I just don’t know if they have the ability to add players. For sure, that would be ideal for living here, especially."
However the next few weeks play out, Pominville will still go down as one of the most beloved Sabres of all time.
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