It had been an absolute whirlwind of a situation for Max Pacioretty and his now former club, the Montreal Canadiens.
For much of the offseason, it seemed like Pacioretty would no longer be a Hab by the start of this season. Then, things changed a bit when both Pacioretty, 29 (will be 30 in November), and his agent, Allan Walsh, expressed that he did not want to leave the team and was hoping to a discuss a contract extension.
The situation was finally resolved on Sunday, September 9, when the Habs made a deal with the Vegas Golden Knights. The Habs sent Pacioretty to the Golden Knights in exchange for Tomas Tatar, top prospect Nick Suzuki, and a 2019 second-round draft pick that formerly belonged to the Columbus Blue Jackets.
This is actually a good deal for both sides. From the Golden Knights’ point-of-view, they get an upgrade over the departed James Neal. Yes, Neal had a solid season with the Golden Knights, but in looking at Pacioretty’s stats, Pacioretty has a higher upside than Neal and brings a lot more scoring power to the team.
For Pacioretty, who the Golden Knights promptly signed to a four-year contract extension worth an average annual value of $7 million, this is an opportunity to rejuvenate his career so he will be highly motivated to have a great season. He still has plenty of years left and could be well worth the gamble for many teams.
In Pacioretty, the Golden Knights get a consistent goal scorer (226 career goals), someone who can put up over 60 points (done in 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017) and is also a player that can be a key contributor on the power play.
Secondly, he’s a big body that can get pucks in the corner, deflect pucks in front of the net, and create havoc for opposing netminders. This is something that a lot of teams could use.
Lastly, when put in the right situation with the right players, he can produce consistently. Last year, he had 37 points in 64 games, but I would blame the low totals to injuries and the fact that the team had trouble finding consistent linemates for him to play with.
On the Habs side of the deal, they get a first-line type player in Tatar. Tatar, 27, had a down season last year as he only had 34 points (20 goals and 14 assists), but for his career, he has 119 goals and 109 assists for 228 points.
Tatar, like Pacioretty, should be someone who can help the Habs’ power play. He had 13 power play points last season and has 62 in his career. Since he’s just 27, he still has a chance to fulfill his potential and be a potent and consistent point producer in Montreal.
When it comes to Suzuki, no one is quite sure what to expect yet. For the Canadiens, Suzuki has a chance to become a top center and is not only someone who has the potential to become a solid offensive contributor, but he’s a player that has worked diligently on his puck protection and being responsible in both ends of the ice.
The Habs hope that he can come in and play in the team’s top six. With that side, some say that he could be a first line player, but that in order to do that, he really needs to round out his game.
On paper, this seems like a good deal for both sides. Only time will tell if that ends up being the case.
Photo: Toronto Star