MINNEAPOLIS -- With a combination of skilled veterans and experienced youngsters, most observers believe this season's edition of the Minnesota Wild is perhaps the most talented group the franchise has ever brought to a training camp.
One of the key pieces to the Wild's puzzle this season is veteran winger Jason Pominville, acquired from the Buffalo Sabres at last season's trade deadline and now in his first camp with Minnesota.
A second-round pick of the Sabres in 2001, Pominville was in the midst of his ninth season with Buffalo when he was traded for the first time in his career last April.
A couple of weeks later, Pominville sustained a concussion that knocked him out of the lineup for the regular season's final two games as well as the first three games against the Chicago Blackhawks in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
He played only three minutes in Game 4, but by the time he returned in time for Game 5 the Wild already trailed the eventual Cup champs three games to one in the series.
Now, he's had a summer to get better and get fully acclimated to a new team and a new city.
"I'm excited to be here. It's obviously a great hockey market, a great city and a city that wants to win and are dedicated to do whatever it takes to take it to that next step, and I think they've proven with the signings they made a couple years ago," he said. "So I think it's nice to be a part of that group and help them out in the best way I can.
Entering the final year of his contract, the Wild have already had ongoing discussions with Pominville's camp about a possible extension.
"We'll see where that leads us," Pominville said. "Obviously, I think everyone is aware that there's been talks and hopefully we can get it going in the right direction. But again, my focus right now isn't really on that. It's just to make sure I'm ready to play when it starts and let the people in place make the decisions when the time comes.
The Wild might be smart to get an extension done with Pominville before the season starts. Pominville opened camp Thursday playing right wing on a line with left wing Zach Parise and center Mikko Koivu -- a group that's expected to be Minnesota's top line if it can find some chemistry over the next couple of weeks.
Pominville, who played with that top group several times last season, scored four goals and nine points in 10 games before his injury.
"If they want you to play with certain guys, it's nice to be able to find that chemistry and get to know them and know what they do in certain situations and even talking," Pominville said. "I think communication is huge and when you know you're going to be on the ice with certain guys, you can talk about what they want you to do and what you want them to do when you have the puck."