While it’s common knowledge the Montreal Canadiens have been considering trading their captain Max Pacioretty. The 10-year Canadiens’ veteran survived the trade deadline, but TSN’s Insider Bob McKenzie said on his most recent TSN Hockey Bobcast to expect Montreal to shop Pacioretty as the team must find a way to re-tool their roster, since rebuilding with the contracts of both Carey Price and Shea Weber is impossible.
Pacioretty, who has one more year on a reasonable six-year, $27MM deal he signed in 2012, had a major drop in performance this year. After tallying 30 or more goals for four straight seasons, Pacioretty managed just 17 in a forgettable 2017-18.
“I don’t believe that the way things currently stand, barring a change, that Montreal wants to make a long-term commitment to Pacioretty,” McKenzie said. “He’s got a year left on his deal. I think that they want to explore some different options and that possibly trading Pacioretty would satisfy those… I think Pacioretty, in a perfect world, would love to stay on Montreal on so many levels. I think he considers it home now, and he loves playing for the Canadiens. But I’m not sure that it’s a marriage that’s necessarily working at this point, so I would expect Pacioretty’s name to be front and center in a lot of trade talk between now and the NHL draft.”
The bigger issue is what the team hopes to get back in return for him. His value is presently quite low, so it seems unlikely the team will get a major return for the 29-year-old.
“But by the same token, they can’t give him away,” McKenzie added. “And he didn’t have a great year this year. The Montreal Canadiens didn’t have a great year. But he’s still a pretty consistent goal scorer, and you can’t give these guys away.”
However, with the team in desperate need for help at the center position, the team may need to use Pacioretty as a trade chip to fill that hole in their lineup. At the moment, the team had been using Jonathan Drouin and Phillip Danault as their top two centers. Neither belongs in those spots as the team has been trying to convert Drouin into a center, which hasn’t gone well so far, while Danault may just not be a top-six player. To make matters worse, the Canadiens have the third pick in the upcoming draft, but this year’s crop of prospects is weak at the center position. And with few other trade chips, they may have little to no choice, especially if the team is hesitant to sign Pacioretty to a long-term extension next year.