Player Report Card: Jason Pominville

36-year-old spent parts of season on top line

Total Season Stats: 73 GP | 16 G | 15 A | 31 PTS

Age: 36

Contract Status: UFA

For pretty much as long as he’s been in Buffalo – and then back in Buffalo – Jason Pominville has been a Buffalo Sabres fan favorite. It’s hard not to like him, and many fans were excited when he returned to the 716 last season. From his off-ice personality and what he seems to bring to the locker room, to his veteran presence on the ice and the bench, there’s a lot to like about Pommers.

All things considered, it wasn’t a bad season for Pominville.

He appeared in 73 games and put up 31 points, a small drop-off from last season but with nine fewer games played. If you’re the kind of person who puts stock in plus/minus, he improved from a minus-17 to a minus-4 this season despite the fact that the Sabres as a whole still struggled.

Pominville finished the season seventh on the Sabres in points, and fourth in goals – behind only Jeff Skinner, Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart. Nearly all of his points came at even-strength, and he averaged 12:28 of ice time per game.

He spent parts of the season on a line with Eichel and Skinner, and it was a joy to watch. It wasn’t an overtly popular move initially, but over time, some came to consider it one of the best lines in the NHL, and rightly so.

Continuing his “gentlemanly” ways, Pominville accrued only four penalty minutes this season. In his entire NHL career, which is now 1,060 games deep, he’s received only 199 penalty minutes.

His future, however, is uncertain.

Pominville, 36, isn’t getting any younger. He was by far the oldest player on a relatively young Sabres team this season (Vladimir Sobotka, at 31, was the next oldest), and is set to become a UFA this summer. Whether or not the Sabres will be interested in re-signing him, or whether he’ll play anywhere next season at all, remains up in the air.

At this point, it seems unlikely that he’ll be back in the blue and gold next season, which is why it was so emotional for many – fans, players and Pommers himself – when he scored in what could’ve been his last home game in Buffalo. He’s been a well-liked player here for years, even during the period when he played in Minnesota, and regardless of where he ends up, he’ll be missed.

One thing his lengthy NHL career has yet to achieve is, of course, a Stanley Cup. Pominville made the playoffs each year during his time in Minnesota, but the Sabres have missed out each of the last two seasons. If he returns to the ice next season, it wouldn’t be shocking to see him go to a team that’s considered a Cup contender.

Season Grade: B+

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