The Montreal Canadiens look like they have no choice but to trade their star player in Max Pacioretty. With the 29-year-old entering the final year of his contract and little interest from Montreal to lock him up to a long-term deal, this is their only chance to move him. However, what makes things challenging for general manager Marc Bergevin and the Canadiens is that Pacioretty is coming off a disappointing year in which he produced just 17 goals in injury-plagued season after posting four straight years of 30 or more goals.
However, time is not Bergevin’s friend and the team has little choice but to try to move his contract now rather than wait to trade him as a rental in February. NBC Sports Joey Alfieri suggests five teams that might be good fits for Pacioretty with the Chicago Blackhawks leading the way. Pacioretty would be the perfect fit for Chicago considering the team’s biggest acquisition this offseason has been backup goaltender Cam Ward. However, the Blackhawks might be challenged to put together a quality package for Pacioretty.
However, another more interesting option would be the New Jersey Devils, who have the cap space to make it work and Pacioretty, a native of Connecticut – a mere 70 miles away — might be willing to stay with a team that already has an intruiging cast including Hart Trophy winner Taylor Hall.
- In a recent podcast on Spittin’ Chiclets, Edmonton Oilers forward Milan Lucic talked about his disappointing season in Edmonton which has his name and his contract being thrown around in potential trade rumors. Regardless, Lucic had nothing but great things to say about the Oilers’ organization and takes a lot of the blame for his poor season. Lucic, who signed a seven-year, $42MM deal in 2016, still has five years remaining at $6MM AAV. However, after posting 23 goals and 50 points in the first year of his deal, Lucic’s numbers took a nosedive as he tallied just 10 goals and 34 points and he didn’t miss a single game all season. “I think it was definitely more of a mental thing,” Lucic said. “It was almost like everything that could have gone wrong went wrong for our team and for me personally and it was the snowball effect or the quicksand effect. I think my mindset got very negative last year. So I was almost my own worst enemy, where this year I’m just going in with a happy, healthier mindset.”
- Dave Isaac of the Cherry Hill Courier-Post writes that Philadelphia Flyers general manager Ron Hextall has kept a close on the New York Islanders and John Tavares situation and isn’t interested in letting any of his players go. With winger Wayne Simmonds entering the final year of his contract, will probably price himself out of Philadelphia and the fact that he likely will end up on the team’s third line this year, don’t be surprised if Hextall trades Simmonds at the trade deadline next year. The 29-year-old has put up 28 or more goals for the past four years in Philadelphia, but struggled with nagging injuries last year, tallying 24 goals.
- The Athletic’s Lisa Dillman reports that Los Angeles Kings prospect Gabe Vilardi will not be participating in the World Junior Showcase for Hockey Canada after Vilardi suffered a back injury. While not considered serious, Vilardi has had issues with his back before as he missed all but 32 games this past year with the OHL Kingston Frontenacs. Vilardi, the team’s first-round pick in 2017, will have a chance to break into the Kings’ lineup if he has a good showing in training camp.