Early this morning the Montreal Canadiens have finally found a package they can live with, and have traded captain Max Pacioretty to the Vegas Golden Knights. Montreal will receive forward Tomas Tatar, prospect Nick Suzuki and a 2019 second-round pick in exchange for the veteran winger. The Canadiens will retain 10% of Pacioretty’s remaining contract, while Vegas will be retaining 9.434% of Tatar’s—equaling exactly $500K for the former Golden Knights winger.
Pacioretty, rumored to be available for months, is expected to sign a long-term extension with the Golden Knights at some point given that Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin told reporters including Eric Engels of Sportsnet that the deal was contingent on a contract being signed with the new team. The Montreal GM also confirmed that there was a trade request from Pacioretty last season, something that had been debated in the media over the last few weeks. The now former captain will be heading west where he’ll try to bounce back from a disappointing 2017-18 campaign that saw him score just 17 goals.
The Golden Knights have been looking for added scoring since the loss of James Neal and David Perron in free agency, and many expected Tatar to step into an increased role. Vegas had traded a first, second and third round pick to the Detroit Red Wings at the deadline last season in order to acquire the 27-year old Tatar, but he didn’t find an immediate fit in the expansion roster and ended up sitting as a healthy scratch at times in the playoffs. The investment clearly didn’t pay off, given that Tatar has been shipped out of town after just 28 games as a Golden Knight.
Along with the former Red Wings forward, Montreal gets one of the best prospects in hockey in Suzuki. Selected 13th overall in 2017, Suzuki returned to the OHL and recorded 100 points in 64 games for the Owen Sound Attack. Though he’s likely not headed for the NHL this season, he could very well lead the OHL in scoring and then make the jump in 2019-20. A versatile forward, Suzuki is praised for both his natural goal scoring ability and offensive instincts and should help to replace the talent heading west in Pacioretty. Though there are some who doubt his future lies at center, the Canadiens have at least added another potential option down the middle going forward.
After the public battle between Pacioretty’s representation and the team, a package of this quality will be a refreshing conclusion for many Montreal fans. It did not seem like there was much of a future in Montreal for the 29-year old winger, while Tatar at least will be in town for the remaining three seasons on his contract. That is if the Canadiens don’t decide to flip him again, given that package that he brought to Detroit just a few months ago.