The Montreal Canadiens promised that big changes were coming to the organization and so far they’ve lived up to that promise. First, the Habs fired longtime AHL coach Sylvain Lefebvre. They followed that up by firing assistant coaches J.J. Daigneault and Dan Lacroix and hired Dominic Ducharme. While they still need to fill a couple of those positions, the Canadiens certainly started the off-season with a bang. Next will be evaluating and moving out some player personnel, which could very well include captain Max Pacioretty.
Possible Trade Destinations for Max Pacioretty
Rumours have been swirling around the Habs captain since the beginning of the 2018 calendar year. Pacioretty endured the worst season of his career and is set to become a free agent at the end of the 2018-19 season. He will require a hefty raise from the $4.5 million he is making now and for a team starved for centres, the money is definitely better spent elsewhere. The Habs already a good group of wingers, and will most likely add to this at the draft by selecting either Andrei Svechnikov or Filip Zadina with the 3rd overall pick. This makes Pacioretty expendable.
Many teams are looking for scoring help on the wing, and Pacioretty fits the bill perfectly. Being one of the top 10 goal scorers over the past five seasons, Pacioretty will certainly bring in a nice haul for the Canadiens. Here’s a look at possible destinations for the Habs Captain if he happens to be moved this off-season.
Finishing 20th overall in goals for this season, the Oilers could certainly use some help finding the back of the net. Edmonton missed the playoffs after being bounced in Game 7 of the Western Conference Semi-Finals the previous season. The Oilers made it known they were in the market for a scoring winger to play along-side Connor McDavid and who better to add than Max Pacioretty. Pacioretty has five 30-goal seasons under his belt and has never played with anyone near the level the McDavid. There’s no reason to believe he wouldn’t hit 40 in Edmonton.
Centre is the key focus on any trade for Max Pacioretty this off-season. It’s also a position of depth for the Oilers. The Habs would be looking for Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to be a part of any deal involving Max Pacioretty. Other potential targets could be Oscar Klefbom, as well as the Oilers first round pick.
The Kings were rumoured to be a team inquiring about the Pacioretty’s services before the trade deadline in February. Lack of firepower proved to be the deciding factor in their series against the Vegas Golden Knights, which will surely make them revisit trade talks with the Habs in the off-season.
Promising prospect Gabe Vilardi would need to be a part of any trade involving Pacioretty. Vilardi could be the answer at centre for years to come. Another possible target would be defenceman Kale Clague.
The Stars were one of the busiest teams last off-season and after missing the playoffs, it looks like they’re going to be busy again. The Stars were possibly the biggest disappointment in the NHL this season. Dallas was looked at as a powerhouse entering the season and were a lock to make the playoffs. Lack of depth on the wing proved detrimental to their success and is something that will need to be addressed this off-season.
Dallas doesn’t have an elite level centre to entice Montreal with. However, they do have an elite level left-handed defenceman in Miro Heiskanen. Heiskanen would be the perfect partner for Shea Weber moving forward, but a piece Dallas is unlikely to part with. A package involving Jason Dickinson, their 2018 first round pick, as well as another piece, could potentially get a deal done.
Much like Dallas, the Blues were also a disappointment this season. Going into February, the Blues were in 5th place in the entire league. Then the wheels completely fell off. The Blues finished the year with a record of 13-14-3 and ended up missing the playoffs. Changes are definitely on the horizon and a top scoring winger is definitely a position of need for the Blues.
Robert Thomas is the complete package. He’s the 200-foot player the Habs have been looking for since the early 90s. Which is also the biggest obstacle. Teams don’t often trade these type of players. A Pacioretty-Thomas deal would involve more pieces. Other potential targets would include Jordan Kyrou and Ivan Barbashev.
The Florida Panthers were the second hottest teams after the all-star break this season. With a record of 24-8-2, the Panthers made a late surge but just came up short for a wild card position. With an average age of 26.4 years old, they are the seventh youngest team in the NHL. Adding a veteran goal scorer in Pacioretty could be the move needed to propel the Panthers into the playoffs next season.
Henrik Borgstrom would be the centrepiece in any Pacioretty trade. While he is a promising prospect, the Panthers would need to move something of value to acquire a player of Pacioretty’s value. Borgstrom is highly skilled, and would easily slot in as one of the top two centres on the Canadiens.
The Flames were the fifth lowest scoring team this season. After missing the playoffs, it’s sure to be their main focus this offseason. It was rumoured that the Flames had inquired about Pacioretty during the season and are sure to be making a call to the Canadiens at the draft.
A package involving Sam Bennett could be of interest to the Canadiens. Bennett has fallen out of favour in Calgary but has the skills in his repertoire to be a top 6 forward.
Trade coming at the draft?
The NHL entry draft is just over a month away and the Habs will surely garner a ton of interest in Pacioretty. As the Canadiens look to change the culture of the organization and get back to Stanley Cup contention, they will surely be very active. Whether or not they elect to move Pacioretty remains to be seen. However, all signs are pointing towards his departure and with the state of the team, it may be in their best interest.
Main Photo: MONTREAL, QC – JANUARY 07: Max Pacioretty #67 of the Montreal Canadiens looks on during the warm-up prior to the NHL game against the Vancouver Canucks at the Bell Centre on January 7, 2018, in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The Montreal Canadiens defeated the Vancouver Canucks 5-2. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)