Although quite large himself, Wayne Primeau grew up under the even larger shadow of his elder brother, Flyer colossus Keith Primeau. Wayne, for his part, had a successful amateur career embellished by anticipation from above that he might be a clone of his accomplished brother.
The younger Primeau played midget for the Whitby Flyers until he was selected 4th overall in the 1992 OHL Priority Draft by the Owen Sound Platers. In all, he put in four seasons of junior A where his size and speed were sufficient to make him a solid offensive performer.
Having been selected 17th overall by the Buffalo Sabres in the 1994 NHL Entry Draft, he turned pro on a full-time basis in 1996. After a 24-game stint with the AHL's Rochester Americans, Primeau was elevated to the NHL where he has remained ever since.
With the Sabres, fans and analysts were finally able to observe how the big centreman would adapt to the rugged demands of big-league play. A sound defensive player, Primeau has worked strong on his defensive game and is strong on faceoffs and strong penalty killer.
Primeau can also use his size and play's a feisty brand of hockey, especially against the odds. One night, while skating against his brother, Keith, Wayne goaded his older brother verbally into a tussle.
In all, Wayne Primeau lasted for parts of five seasons with the Sabres. He was then traded as part of a collective to the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for Chris Gratton. There, Primeau continued in his capacity as a utility centreman until he was again traded in 2001 to the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for Matthew Barnaby.
Primeau went on to play parts of three seasons with Pittsburgh before he was traded to the San Jose Sharks at the March 2003 trading deadline. After one full season in San Jose in 2003-04 and a lockout year in 2004-05, Primeau was part of a blockbuster deal in November of 2005 that brought Joe Thornton of the Boston Bruins to San Jose in exchange for Primeau, Brad Stuart and Marco Sturm.
Primeau would compete with the Bruins for 101 games over a season and a half with the club before being traded with Brad Stuart to the Calgary Flames for Andrew Ference and Chuck Kobasew.