In a series of tweets, Max Pacioretty’s agent Allan Walsh of Octagon Hockey shot down recent rumors and explained once again that his client wants desperately to sign a long-term extension with the Montreal Canadiens and that he loves the city. Walsh confirms that the Canadiens had a trade worked out at the draft with the Los Angeles Kings contingent on Pacioretty signing an extension there, intimating that his client had nothing to do with the deal. Pacioretty changed agents during the draft in Dallas, and has never publicly stated that he wants anything but to remain in Montreal. Walsh claims Pacioretty is “ready to sign an extension with Montreal today.”
Incidentally Walsh never does deny that Pacioretty asked for a trade last season, the report of which from Martin Leclerc today seemingly instigating his Twitter tirade. Instead, he makes it clear that at this moment the Canadiens captain would rather remain in town on a long-term extension. Announcements like this from any agent can and should be taken with a grain of salt given ongoing negotiations, but there does seem to be a disconnect between the player and organization at this point.
Pacioretty is heading into the final season of a team-friendly six-year contract signed back in 2012 and is likely looking for a substantial upgrade to stay in a Canadiens uniform. The team meanwhile can’t be happy with the state of their roster going into 2018-19 and may decide it’s best to invest in the next wave of talent and move on from Pacioretty, given their huge commitments to even older players in Shea Weber and Carey Price. Montreal isn’t expected to contend for the Stanley Cup this season, and is starting to look towards younger players like Jonathan Drouin, Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Victor Mete as leaders on their next competitive team.
Still, by being so vocal with his want for a long-term contract in Montreal, Pacioretty isn’t doing the team any favors on the trade market. Though he holds no trade protection in his current contract, he could still effectively block any deal by refusing to sign an extension with an acquiring team. The Canadiens would want to get full value in any trade, and with a tepid market for scoring wingers set by Jeff Skinner earlier this summer, starting the season with Pacioretty may be the best option.