BUFFALO -- Returning to western New York and the Buffalo Sabres was an easy transition for former Wild forward Jason Pominville, who along with Marco Scandella was traded to the Sabres in June in a deal that netted Minnesota forwards Tyler Ennis and Marcus Foligno.
Tonight, Pominville and Scandella will play against their former team when the Wild and Sabres tangle on the banks of Lake Erie at Key Bank Center in Buffalo.
During an optional skate on Wednesday morning, both Pominville and Scandella visited with former teammates and support staff on the Minnesota side.
Pominville, who spent parts of five seasons with the Wild after a midseason trade that sent him from the Sabres to Minnesota in 2013, said it was good to find a few friends, catch up and share some old stories.
"It's is nice to see the guys," Pominville said. "Good memories, good group of guys. We went through a lot together."
Pominville said the return to Buffalo has been great for both him and his family. His wife and two children, who were also with him here during his first stint, were able to find a house in the same neighborhood they lived in before. They've been able to re-connect with several different friends who they stayed in touch with during the Minnesota years.
Around the rink, not much has changed either, other than the faces in the dressing room.
"It's been really easy," Pominville said. "Everything off the ice has been so easy; our family, our kids and the wife, everything has been real easy. Obviously on the ice, we'd like to have more success and win more games, but that'll come."
For Scandella, the trade marked the first time he had changed teams in his professional career. Selected by the Wild in the second round of the 2008 NHL Draft, Scandella said it was nice having a veteran teammate like Pominville to help with the transition to a new team.
Pominville knowing the area and the franchise so well was certainly an added bonus.
"Pommer is a great pro, I've always looked up to him, even when we got him in Minny," Scandella said. "A great pro, great guy to look up to, from Montreal, played here in Buffalo ... So he helped me out with the off-ice stuff, the living situation and giving me a little information about the organization. It was great coming with a guy like him."
In coming to Buffalo, Scandella joins other former Wild draft picks Justin Falk (his defensive partner), Johan Larsson and Benoit Pouliot.
Playing with Falk has been a treat; the two have a history going all the way back to when they were teammates with the Houston Aeros.
Scandella has also been able to adopt to a top-pairing role with the Sabres, one where he's been able to see regular time on the power play. Now 27 years old, it was an opportunity for Scandella to take the next step in his career.
"Super exciting, that's what I was hoping for in the offseason," Scandella said. "Coming into camp, I was trying to earn a spot and get some more minutes which has been really nice to do."
Here are the projected lineups:
Jason Zucker - Eric Staal - Nino Niederreiter
Daniel Winnik - Mikko Koivu - Mikael Granlund
Marcus Foligno - Charlie Coyle - Tyler Ennis
Chris Stewart - Matt Cullen - Zack Mitchell
Ryan Suter - Jared Spurgeon
Jonas Brodin - Matt Dumba
Gustav Olofsson - Mike Reilly
Evander Kane - Jack Eichel - Jason Pominville
Benoit Pouliot - Ryan O'Reilly - Sam Reinhart
Zemgus Girgensons - Johan Larsson - Kyle Criscuolo
Jordan Nolan - Jacob Josefson - Kyle Okposo
Marco Scandella - Justin Falk
Jake McCabe - Nathan Beaulieu
Josh Gorges - Viktor Antipin