If Montreal Canadiens captain Max Pacioretty is being genuine about wanting to stay in Montreal for the rest of his career, the team has a lot of thinking to do whether the 29-year-old winger is worth a long-term deal. Sure, he had posted five straight 30-goal seasons (if you don’t include the strike-shortened 2012-13 year), but after a 16-goal campaign last season and the fact that he’ll be 30 when he starts his new contract, there are a lot of variables that the Canadiens need to consider after the team handed goaltender Carey Price an eight-year, $84MM extension a year ago that’s already starting to look questionable and it hasn’t even started yet.
One obvious way for things to work out perfectly would be if Pacioretty can rebound and put up another banner season. Another 30-goal performance would undoubtedly make the 2017-18 season look like a fluke and would make it a whole lot easier to sign him to a new contract, according to Montreal Gazette’s Pat Hickey. However, the scribe also points out that he must improve on his mental game as well as Pacioretty has a tendency to be streaky and get down on himself when he’s not producing. It’s likely, if the veteran captain can’t make that adjustment, he’ll be heading out of town just like Andrei Markov, Alexander Radulov and P.K. Subban did in past years.
- NHL.com’s Kevin Woodley writes that veteran goaltender Roberto Luongo is focusing more on his health this year after two injury-plagued campaigns that has kept him out of 89 games. The 39-year-old goaltender, who will turn 40 during the season, still has four years remaining on the 12-year, $64MM deal he signed with Vancouver in 2009. He has spent more than 90 minutes a day of extra time with goaltending coach Robb Tallas, focusing on his surgically repaired hip from 2016 and the groin tear he sustained last season. “Back in the day, I used to show up half an hour before I went on the ice and just throw the gear on, but these are the things I need to do be ready, to be loose and make sure everything is working properly,” Luongo said. “The main thing is I understand what I need to do as far as preparation to be where I need to be to be healthy. After my hip surgery, once I started feeling good, I kind of neglected it. You think you are back to normal, but you are not. You always have to keep on it to make sure you keep it strong and loose.” While he’s missed quite a bit of time, Luongo’s numbers haven’t suffered as he posted a .929 save percentage and three shutouts in 35 appearances.
- Dom Luszczyszyn of The Athletic (subscription required) writes that the Ottawa Senators are considering using newly acquired winger Mikkel Boedker as a first-line option alongside Mark Stone and Matt Duchene next season. Boedker, who was acquired as part of the Mike Hoffman trade with the San Jose Sharks, has posted up-and down numbers the last several years, including a 10-goal season in 2016-17 and then 15-goal season a year ago. The scribe writes that putting Boedker on the first line will be a dangerous combination as Boedker isn’t a great two-way player and historically is a player that thrives on the power play, but rarely during even strength.