To say Montreal Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty has been at the centre of trade rumours would be an understatement. Hardly a day has gone by without the 29-year-old alleged to land somewhere, anywhere.
With the NHL trade deadline approaching, the rumours are reaching a fever pitch.
TVA Sports’ Renaud Lavoie even reported Monday that a Pacioretty deal is set to come in the next few days, which means there could be movement on the trade front at any moment now. Or not.
Assembling the facts should be helpful here.
The Canadiens are currently sixth in the Atlantic Division, with a 20-24-6 record going into Thursday’s contest against the Carolina Hurricanes. They are firmly out of the playoff hunt, which hypothetically makes them sellers going into the trade deadline.
Pacioretty is the biggest trade chip they have and he’s been underwhelming this season. The 29-year-old has 31 points in 50 games, including 16 goals and 15 assists. He’s a minus-10 as of press time, with five power play goals.
Pacioretty has a year remaining on his current deal, which means he won’t land somewhere else as a rental. That’s earned him comparisons to Matt Duchene, but the Hab has a cheaper contract and is a better player overall. His cap hit of $4.5 million through 2018-2019 should be easy enough to swallow for a franchise in need.
The Canadiens, therefore, have a lot to gain from moving Pacioretty while he’s got some time in the bank and a deal worth working with. That puts them in a unique position, in that they can entice a bit of a bidding war for their forward.
If the rumours are to be believed, Montreal has been shopping Pacioretty rather aggressively. The St. Louis Blues are among the teams said to be in the mix, with the Hans intent on acquiring a young centre to assist down the middle. According to reports, Robert Thomas has the attention of Marc Bergevin. Jordan Kyrou is also a possibility.
In all likelihood, the Canadiens would like to send Pacioretty out West. That could put the San Jose Sharks in the mix, especially as they gear up for another Cup run with Joe Thornton still holding on. He’d get a sure boost from Pacioretty in the lineup.
But really, rumours are rumours and there isn’t anything substantial to report on this front yet. The facts suggest that moving Pacioretty would make sense from a multitude of perspectives, but this is standard practice among NHL fans when a team becomes a dumpster fire.
The Canadiens are in the midst of a difficult season and the Pacioretty situation is creating more and more problems, which can only undermine the team from within. Moving him sooner would be better for morale, but moving him later would be better for a budding deal as clubs get more desperate as the post-season looms.
In the opinion of this author, a Pacioretty deal will get done this season. But it may take a little longer to put together, with trade deadline the likeliest day for Bergevin and Co. to finally pull the trigger.