Sabres acquire Jason Pominville, Marco Scandella from Wild

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The Buffalo Sabres began transforming their underperforming defense by acquiring Marco Scandella in a trade with the Minnesota Wild on Friday.

Former Sabres captain Jason Pominville's returning to Buffalo, too.

In exchange, the Wild acquired forwards Tyler Ennis and Marcus Foligno in a trade struck a day before the NHL's free-agency signing period opens. The teams also swapped 2018 draft picks, with Minnesota picking up a third-round selection in exchange for a fourth-round pick.

Scandella was the key addition for Buffalo, which is undergoing an offseason transformation under new general manager Jason Botterill and first-time coach Phil Housley. Scandella is a defensive-minded player who is expected to step into a top-four role in Buffalo.

The seventh-year player had four goals and 13 points in 71 games last year, and has averaged more than 18 minutes of ice time per game in each of his past four seasons. Overall, the Wild's 2008 second-round draft pick has 27 goals and 89 points in 373 career games.

Pominville returns to Buffalo after the Sabres traded him to Minnesota in a multiplayer trade in April 2013. The 30-year-old can play a variety of forward roles and is coming off a season in which he had 13 goals and 47 points.

He was a fan favorite during his seven-plus seasons in Buffalo, during which he scored 185 goals and had 456 points in 578 games. Pominville was a member of Sabres teams that reached the Eastern Conference finals in both 2006 and `07. Buffalo hasn't won a playoff round since then and hasn't qualified for the postseason in each of the past six years.

"Hopefully we can bring that same buzz to the city again," Pominville said, recalling the mob of fans who watched playoffs games on a big-screen TV outside the Sabres arena. "You want younger players to have the chance to see and live what we were able to do."

The Wild addressed needs of their own by freeing up salary cap space and filling forward roles by acquiring speedy play-maker Ennis and a physical presence in Foligno.

"It just wasn't realistic that we were going to be able to bring our team back as it was constituted at the end of last year and into next season," Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher said. "I think we checked a few boxes with the trade today."

Ennis is a three-time 20-goal-scorer whose production has been hampered due to an assortment of injuries, including several concussions, over the past two seasons. He had four goals and 12 points in 48 games last year in a season limited by a groin injury.

"My initial reaction was like 'Wow, this is going to be awesome. We get to play together," Ennis said. "I'm definitely going to miss (Buffalo), and everyone that made it special for me, but I'm very excited to be a part of the Minnesota Wild and have a fresh start."

Foligno scored a career-best 13 goals in his fourth full season with Buffalo last year. Overall, he has 49 goals and 67 assists for 116 points in 347 career games. Foligno is a restricted free agent whose rights were retained after Buffalo issued him a qualifying offer this week.

In separate news, the Sabres hired Chris Taylor to take over as head coach of their American Hockey League affiliate in Rochester, New York. Taylor returns to Rochester, where he spent 14 seasons as a player and coach. He spent last season as an assistant with the Pittsburgh Penguins' AHL affiliate, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

Taylor has ties to Botterill as a player and as the Penguins former assistant GM. He also has a connection to Rochester's newly hired GM Randy Sexton, who previously worked for the Penguins.