ST. PAUL -- Few players were more excited by the hiring of Bruce Boudreau as coach of the Minnesota Wild than veteran forward Jason Pominville.
It marked a new beginning for Pominville and a fresh start with a team he's been with for nearly four years.
Since being acquired by Minnesota at the trade deadline in 2013, Pominville has seen his goal numbers decrease, from 30 in his first full season with the Wild in 2013-14, to 18 to 11 in 75 games last year.
A three-time 30-goal scorer in his career, Pominville said he's hoping to rediscover those kinds of numbers with a new system in place. Following a slow start last season, Pominville got better as the year went on and will try to build on a postseason that saw him score four goals and seven points in six games against the Dallas Stars.
"I want to try and put my start [last year] behind me and not think about it," Pominville said. "Hopefully, this year I'll have a better start. It's tough to get in a groove and get momentum when you start the way I did. It drains you mentally, and physically you waste a lot of energy thinking about different things you can do better.
"But to finish the way I did was pretty exciting, and I liked the way our line played. Hopefully I can carry it though."
Pominville's line that included Erik Haula and Nino Niederreiter was one of the best in the NHL over the final month of last season and helped carry the Wild to a fourth consecutive berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Video: DAL@MIN, Gm6: Pominville cuts the deficit back to one
While he has spent time on that line again during training camp this season, Boudreau has experimented with Pominville playing alongside Mikko Koivu and Mikael Granlund on the second line.
No matter where Pominville ends up and with whom he plays, Boudreau is counting on him returning to form. The right winger has averaged nearly 25 goals per season and his second goal this season will mark the 250th of his career.
"That top nine that we have, he definitely has to be an important part of it," Boudreau said. "I think we've used him [during camp] as an important part of it. But as the season goes on, we'll see how much he fatigues and tires. He's not 23 anymore, and I don't want to have a tendency to overuse him. We'll see how that works out."
Pominville has been a fixture on the Wild's power play during his time in Minnesota and is certainly a candidate to play there again this season. But with a number of options to fill spots on the power play, reducing his time there could be a way to keep him fresher for 5-on-5 situations.
Boudreau has also experimented with Pominville on the penalty kill during the preseason. An outstanding penalty killer in Buffalo during the early part of his career, Pominville has rarely seen time on that unit since arriving in Minnesota.
That will likely change this season.
"If he's not going to be on the power play, I want to get him more involved," Boudreau said. "We've practiced that in practice, and I thought he had a great stick and I went up and talked to him about how he killed in Buffalo."
Pominville was receptive.
"I've always liked to kill," Pominville said. "I played [on the penalty kill] pretty much my whole time in Buffalo. When I came here, it kind of slipped away from me."
It's that fresh perspective that has reinvigorated Pominville during the preseason and has him excited as the regular season dawns Thursday against the St. Louis Blues.
"Those kind of coaches don't come available that often, and we were able to get him and we were able to get him pretty quick," Pominville said. "He's been around, won a lot of games and usually has good offensive team. As a player, he was an offensive guy, so he should bring some good ideas to our group."
For Boudreau, the feelings are mutual.
"I know he's a very important cog in our machine and hopefully we'll be able to use him to the best of his abilities and in the best situations," Boudreau said. "Anytime you have a former NHL captain, I've found out they are quite responsible and they've got great character."