There has been speculation around Montreal Canadiens captain Max Pacioretty for months, with a trade out of town being the most likely final scenario for the scoring winger. Recently though there had been some who wondered if the Canadiens would re-open talks for an extension, something that now appears completely off the table. Marc Antoine Godin of The Athletic (subscription required) has been told that the Canadiens will not negotiate a new contract with Pacioretty, and in fact intend to work out a trade “as soon as possible.” GM Marc Bergevin has in fact communicated that to his captain, though Pacioretty does not have any trade protection in his current contract.
That contract expires at the end of next season, and has vastly underpaid Pacioretty over its duration. Carrying a $4.5MM cap hit this year, the 29-year old forward would be welcome on almost any team in the league. Still, the Canadiens know that their best chance at a big return is if Pacioretty works out an extension right away with the acquiring team. That reportedly almost happened at the June draft, but a contract couldn’t be worked out with the Los Angeles Kings and instead Pacioretty changed agencies and signed with Allan Walsh of Octagon Hockey.
Walsh is the one who now will negotiate any extension, and one would have to believe that several teams who missed out on some of the bigger free agents will be inquiring on the five-time 30-goal scorer. San Jose, Dallas, Tampa Bay and Boston were all given the opportunity to sit down with John Tavares, and though Pacioretty is obviously a different talent there would likely be some crossover. It’s not just those squads that could use some added scoring punch though, something that the Montreal captain can still provide even despite his down season in 2017-18.
Pacioretty scored just 17 goals in 64 contests last season, but can be expected to improve on that number going forward. While a long-term deal may not turn out to be an exceptional value, it’s definitely a worthwhile risk for a player with his track record. The question now becomes what Montreal is looking for in return, and how an extension would change that ask. The Canadiens are still trying to compete right away as Carey Price enters his eight-year $84MM contract, but will have to seriously consider a package of young or future assets in exchange for their captain.