As expected, the Vegas Golden Knights have announced a long-term extension for new winger Max Pacioretty. After acquiring him last night from the Montreal Canadiens, the Golden Knights have signed Pacioretty to a four-year, $28MM extension that will run through the 2022-23 season. The deal includes a 10-team no-trade clause, and though Pacioretty does have one season left on his current contract, his next deal will be considerably front loaded to give him a good chunk of the salary up front:
- 2019-20: $10.5MM
- 2020-21: $7.0MM
- 2021-22: $5.25MM
- 2022-23: $5.25MM
Montreal GM Marc Bergevin stated that an extension was part of the agreement to send Pacioretty to Vegas, though the official announcement has come some hours later. The Golden Knights sent Tomas Tatar, Nick Suzuki and a second-round pick to Montreal in the middle of the night and had already been given a window to negotiate with Pacioretty. Vegas GM George McPhee admitted in his press conference today that they had been talking to the Canadiens since just after the draft, and things picked up over the last few days.
Pacioretty, 29, becomes one of just three forwards on the Golden Knights who are under contract for the 2021-22 season, joining Jon Marchessault and Reilly Smith who were key members of the offensive attack in a Cinderella first season. The former Montreal captain will try to join in on that production, and return to the goal scoring ways that made him a star for the Canadiens. In four consecutive seasons between 2013-2017, Pacioretty recorded at least 30 goals and 60 points and was one of the most consistent two-way threats in the Eastern Conference. It likely would have been six consecutive seasons if the 2012-13 campaign wasn’t shortened because of a work stoppage—Pacioretty had 33 goals in 2011-12 and 15 in the shortened year.
That kind of goal scoring is extremely difficult to acquire, and there is no guarantee that the Golden Knights have done so with this transaction. Pacioretty only scored 17 goals last season in 64 games, though was still one of the Canadiens most dangerous players when healthy. If he can stay on the ice in Vegas and perhaps find some early chemistry with fellow newcomer Paul Stastny, there’s a good chance he could revert to the 30-goal scorer he showed for so many years. Those questions are far from answered though, and the Golden Knights are paying him as though he will bounce back immediately. In doing so they are taking on some definite risk, though after proving they’re already in a Stanley Cup window taking a chance to acquire talent like this is usually necessary.
It is interesting that the team was able to keep the term down to just four years, given the reports that the Los Angeles Kings had offered Pacioretty a six-year, $36MM extension in a trade that fell apart earlier this offseason. Even if he can’t get back to the level he showed in previous years, Pacioretty will only be 34 when the deal expires and will likely still be at least a usable NHL player.