What the Pacioretty trade means for both teams

Written by: Liam Holland @LiamPattyHol

Since it was stated there would be no contract negotiations between the Canadiens and their Captain Max Pacioretty, there has been speculation about whether Pacioretty would make it to free agency next summer, be a rental for a playoff team or be traded before the season starts.

Well, the latter happened.

On Monday September 10th, 2018 the Montreal Canadiens traded Captain Max Pacioretty to the Vegas Golden Knights for Tomas Tatar, Nick Suzuki and a 2019 2nd round pick.

For the Golden Knights it appears that they have found an upgrade for James Neal as he’d left for Calgary in FA. That upgrade is Max Pacioretty, who will undoubtedly make the Knights offence even more potent as he’ll likely play with notable playmaker Paul Stastny.

With a new place to play and less media attention than in Montreal I think Knights fans have much to look forward to this season from Pacioretty. As Captain of a storied franchise, though, if he’s called to be a leader he’s more than capable to fill that role.

Coming off a difficult season with the Canadiens, Pacioretty will no doubt want to bounce back after scoring only 17 goals in 64 games – which is much less than the elite goal scorer is used to over the course of his career. Given that the Knights gave up a prospect its no surprise they signed Pacioretty to a very nice $28 million deal over 4 years. Now with a new system under head coach Gerard Gallant we’ll see what the former Habs captain can achieve as a Golden Knight.

The Canadiens acquisitions are interesting as they were able to attain a hopeful center prospect in Nick Suzuki who scored 100 points for the Owen Sound Attack this past season. Acquiring Suzuki puts the Canadiens prospect pool in good standing with 3rd overall pick Jesperi Kotkaniemi, and 2017 25th overall pick Ryan Poehling. All three of them centers, giving the Canadiens fans a surge of hope for the center core in the future. Suzuki is no doubt what make or breaks this trade for the Canadiens as he looks to be a promising center who can skate well with the puck and be the scoring center the Habs haven’t had in years.

Acquiring Tomas Tatar is a good pickup with the departure of Pacioretty so Habs fans can look forward to Tatar as a possible second line left wing this season maybe third line. Tater is under contract for the next three seasons. I’m sure most Habs fans would expect 20 goal seasons from Tatar. The 2nd round pick we’ll see what comes of it.

The Golden Knights fans have much to look forward to this year with Pacioretty’s addition bringing his great shot and leadership, the knights will continue to be contenders this year. As the Canadiens have started to realize their place in the league looking to rebuild starting with their biggest weakness being at center.

Advertisements

Begin the End, Montreal

To be completely up front with you, I’m a Leaf fan.

But far beyond that, I’m a hockey fan. I enjoy seeing hockey clubs do exciting things like signing free agents, making trades that are high-risk high-reward, and even pulling the odd rip-the-bandaid-off-because-this-will-really-suck-but-it’s-for-the-best kind of deal.

What I don’t like so much, is watching franchises consistently mishandle their assets, disregard their fan-base, and frankly, waste everybody’s time and money.

Yes. This is exactly what I’m saying the Montreal Canadiens are guilty of, and they need to do something about it immediately. Do something like stop messing around and tear it down. I have a great idea where they can start.

Being a Leaf fan doesn’t mean I have to hate on the Habs, just like being a Messi fan doesn’t mean I can’t see Ronaldo’s quality. We’re always trying to be impartial over here at The Rival Sports. For the purpose of this write-up I will however, be hating on the Habs. The method is to show you where to start selling this thing off for (younger) parts.

Exhibit #1: Carey Price

Now, before you stop reading, consider that as a Habs fan, you must love this guy. Doesn’t that mean you want the best for him? Do you honestly believe in your heart of hearts that he’s destined to be a winner in Montreal? If it’s up to me, I’m giving our man a one-way ticket to the world of possibility.

Now at age 30, and signed for an eternity, there are only a few teams that would be in the running to acquire his services. A young team with available draft picks in order to satisfy Montreal’s asking price, (which would be hefty). Only one team in my mind fits this bill. They have a need, they have the youth, and if there’s one place Price would like to play if it’s not Montreal, it would be out West.

The Calgary Flames.

Mike Smith is a UFA after this season, and at 36 years old and having his share of injury troubles, will be a long-shot to be re-signed. Think of Carey Price backstopping a lineup of Johnny Hockey, Sean Monahan, James Neal, Mark Giordano, and TJ Brodie. With a couple other moves for Calgary this would put their club over the top and be a lock for the playoffs every year. Inconsistent goaltending has been the Flames’ problem since the departure of Mikka Kiprusoff. A more suitable landing spot, I couldn’t imagine. Let’s make it happen, for the good of everyone, even the Leafs, (I had to).

What would it take to get him?

A lot. High picks, established roster player, and a couple of prospects.

Exhibit #2: Max Pacioretty

Captain Canadien. Your bluest of chips, perennial 30-goal scorer would be the absolute obvious place to start. Coming off a down year by his standards, that shouldn’t be enough to sour any potential suitors’ opinion of him at all. The trouble is, will Marc Bergevin come to his senses and pull the trigger on what would get them a good haul? In his defense, he did at least try.

Pacioretty is due $4.5-million for the 2018/2019 season and is a UFA the next season where he’s due for a large pay increase a-la JVR in Philly. Whoever looks to acquire him would be paying him in the range of $7-7.5-million. This is a fee that the LA Kings were willing to pay until they chose 35-year-old free agent forward Ilya Kovalchuk on a 3-year $6.2-million contract this off-season.

What would it take in return?

A young roster player
high-end prospect
couple of draft picks (maybe a 1st included or two 2nd)

Why trade him now?

He’s 29 years old and not part of the next wave of youth. Montreal needs to recognize this and ship him out while he’s still very serviceable and can get the largest return. It’s as simple as that.

Possible trade partners: Colorado, Edmonton, New Jersey

As much as I’ve passionately rooted against the Habs my whole life, I do want them to be good. Most of all, I want the best players in the world to be treated properly and to have success. Montreal is obviously one of the most storied franchises in sports, and this mismanagement of the team has put their biggest and best in a terrible position. The Canadiens are not twisting themselves out of this one without doing a rebuild properly. Too much time and too much has been unfortunately wasted, and it’s time to accept that and do the right thing, for everyone’s sake.

Could Montreal Be Starting A Rebuild? (Amended…NOPE)- 200takes

Per Darren Dreger the Montreal Canadians have traded Simon Bourque for Steve Mason, Joel Armia, a 4th round pick, and a 7th round pick. Presumably this is a salary dump for Winnipeg to resign their deadline acquisition Paul Stastny, but it is a little more complicated for Montreal.

This may be a cataclysmic move for Montreal, signalling a trade of Price and beginning of their rebuild. Their current goalies with contracts are Niemi, Mason, Lindgren, and  McNiven. IF the Canadiens keep Steve Mason, and that is an extremely large if, then it may in fact mean that their franchise player is on his way out the door.

For Montreal the return would be massive for Price. Presumably a top goalie prospect, 1-2 first round picks, some young roster players and or A-level prospects. It would not only send Montreal into a rebuild, it would catapult them forward passed a lot of the hard parts (asset acquisition).

It would be a great but tough move for Montreal, who really haven’t been close in recent years. Blow it up and build around Drouin and Domi… not a bad plan! The only issue is their current GM may not be the man for the job.

 

AMENDMENT: Steve Mason on buy out waivers

With the Montreal Canadiens buying out Steve Mason it appears any thought of a rebuild is off. Shame for Habs fans as they don’t really have a team direction at this point. A shaky D core, a forwards group without any elite centers, and a goalie who is elite but has more value as a trade acquisition at this point. Bergevin strikes again!

Overload on the Wings

Written by Liam Holland https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Looking at the season the Canadiens just had, on paper it would be fair to assume that the whole roster should be blown up. However, let’s focus on the Habs’ largest pool of assets, their wingers.

With the likes of Pacioretty, Drouin, and Gallagher to name a few, the necessity to acquire more is non-existent if you take into consideration the potential to draft an NHL ready top six winger.
Here’s a quick list of all the Habs wingers on the roster currently:

Max Pacioretty
Arturri Lehkonen
Paul Byron
Brendan Gallagher
Charles Hudon
Andrew Shaw
Logan Shaw
Daniel Carr
Kerby Rychel
Max Domi
Nikita Scherbak
Michael McCarron

Who’s on the ropes:

Daniel Carr
Logan Shaw
Michael McCarron
Kerby Rychel
Nicolas Deslauriers

Daniel Carr, who is 26 and was a FA signing a few years ago has had years to prove himself as he shows signs of being a capable speedy 4th line scorer. However, he’s become overshadowed by 23 and 22-year-old Hudon and Scherbak, as they proved over the season they can compete at the NHL level full-time.

Logan Shaw was claimed off waivers from the Ducks and as an RFA this summer I would assume he signs a 2-way deal or hits Free agency.

Michael McCarron will never be a successful NHL player. After having a solid rookie campaign in the AHL way back in the 2015-16 season he was brought up given a chance to leave a mark on the ice with his 6’6, 230-pound frame. Instead he is left in the dust night in and night out. He only earned 2 points and 37 penalty minutes in 20 games. In the last two years he’s played 49 more games in the NHL only earning another 6 points, 1 in his latest 18 games from this last season. He’s just too slow to keep up.

Personally, not having much of my own look at Rychel‘s play in the NHL or AHL, I did like his play for the Habs at the end of the season after being acquired at the trade deadline in the trade that sent Plekanec to the Toronto Maple Leafs. To me he’d be a great player that would start the season on the NHL roster and dress if a player gets hurt or Julien wants to play more of a physical game against a certain team.

Nicolas Deslauriers, after being traded to the Montreal Canadiens at the beginning of the season, was at the time a grab to get some “character” on the team. In Deslauriers’ first game he quickly gained the fans in the Bell Centre that nights support by knocking Zac Rinaldo down to the ice in his first tilt as a Canadien. Deslauriers’s style of play as a grinder just makes you want to cheer him on as when he was a kid growing up he was a Habs fan. Moving from Buffalo to Montreal in the offseason, I’m sure any athlete given the opportunity to play for their childhood club would do whatever it takes to stay there. So, he did what any 4th line player would do, he scored 10 goals in 58 games with 10:48 minutes ATOI, earning himself a 2 year contract with the club. So due to his contributions to the team, like Rychel, I would keep him on the roster and fill in when necessary.

Now these are just my takes on the situation in Montreal. This take doesn’t include the Habs 2018 3rd overall pick this summer though where they’ll likely add to this depth with Filip Zadina. With this depth will Marc Bergevin trade for picks or move a chunk of wingers for a left handed top 4 defenseman? Only Geoff Molson will tell us July 2, 2018 saying he supports Bergevin after all the incompetent moves he makes July 1st.

The Real Losers of The Stanley Cup Final

Washington finally got their Stanley Cup after years of disappointing playoff runs, and the Vegas Golden Knights defied the odds of what an inaugural expansion team should have been able to do. It’s weird to say but there wasn’t really a loser when it came to the NHL Stanley Cup finals, but that’s simply not okay in my eyes… so I did some digging.

I present to you: the Montreal Canadians and Florida Panthers – Losers of the 2017/18 Stanley Cup Finals!

Montreal Canadiens

Third last in the Eastern Conference’s Atlantic division with only 71 points amassed, Montreal were out of the playoffs for some time this season. But, when we look at the roster of the Washington Capitals there are some familiar faces for Habs fans.

Devante Smith-Pelly – The former Canadien winger is currently catching the run off booze out of the Stanley Cup from Ovechkin’s bender. Besides that, Smith-Pelly was cast in the right spot for Washington as a depth winger who can bring physical play and speed with the addition of some secondary scoring. In the regular season DSP managed 38 points, more than he had in two seasons combined in Montreal.

While having just a brief stint in MTL, Smith-Pelly was heralded a little too highly upon arriving. He was a promising prospect coming from the well respected draft and development system of Anaheim. It may have been too much too fast for DSP who has already played in seven NHL season at just 26 years of age, but knowing that he is a low ceiling depth forward rather than a high potential prospect has seemed to unlock his abilities for Washington.

In the playoffs Smith-Pelly chipped in 8 points with 7 of them being goals. Depth scoring and even playoff depth scoring (when they were there) is something Montreal has needed for some time, and missed out on by cutting ties with Smith-Pelly.

Lars Eller – A true Montreal Canadien to the core and veteran of six NHL seasons with the Canadiens, Lars Eller has just completed his career best season – away from the Habs. Lars Eller, Washington’s third (sometimes fourth) line centre has been a bit of a jack of all trades for his team. In the playoffs he was able to jump up in the line up when Nicklas Backstrom was out for four games against Tampa Bay. Eller was able to bring his physical, agitating game up to Washington’s second line, but also mixed in his offensive prowess too.

Eller had 38 points to his name this regular season, 18 goals and 20 assists and in the playoffs he added 18 points in 24 games. He is very effective in front of the net and brings more skill and physicality to the Washington line up in a depth role. With Devante Smith-Pelly below him in the line up and Tom Wilson above, Eller acted as a balancing out factor in the physical/skill hybrid style of play Washington thrived on this season and post season.

Eller wasn’t miscast in Montreal, and didn’t underperform really either. The Habs were not as offensively talented as the Capitals were this season and for years passed, but his presence in the centre ice position is desperately needed on the Canadiens team and a versatile player like Eller could help a team looking for help in the middle of the ice.

Florida Panthers

We’re all about to witness history as the Florida Panthers are about to over-develop their players to the point of diminishing their potential abilities as the Panthers fade back into NHL obscurity. But seriously, the Florida Panthers have been on the cusp of being a great team for so long that it just doesn’t seem likely anymore that they’ll take the next step. What rubs some salt in the wound for the Panthers is seeing two of their players from the season prior excelling and firing the Vegas Golden Knights to unbelievable success.

Jonathan Marchessault – Entering the league officially with Columbus in 2012-13 Marchessault would have to wait until 2016-17 to show what he could really be in this league with the Florida Panthers. He would go on to score 51 points in his first season with Florida. He was believed to be a found-money type of player that returned on a low investment and could help fill out and carry the Panther’s young core forward into the playoffs and further. They wouldn’t make the playoffs that season but everyone believed he would certainly be safe from the expansion draft, showing that he is a bit of a maestro offensively. Apparently we were all wrong, and Vegas made a no brainer and scooped up the surprisingly unprotected player.

Marchessault would continue his offensive outburst in Vegas, netting 75 points in the regular season. He didn’t slow down in the playoffs either, putting up more than a point a game in the post season with 21 points in 20 games. He was brought in with low expectations, as were all of the Knights players, and exceeded the likely predictions around him for the season. Florida ended up missing the playoffs without him, and he would have registered tied for second in team scoring with Vincent Trocheck, behind only Aleksander Barkov.

Reilly Smith – Vegas would pick up the $25 million dollar man from Florida before their inaugural season began in June 2017 for just a fourth round pick in the 2018 draft. A puzzling move as he was traded just one season after Florida signed him to a 5 year $5 million dollar a year contract. He did decline in production in his final year with Florida, only putting up 37 points, however his previous three seasons saw him collect 51, 40, and 50 points respectively.

Florida gave up on him too early, and what was the Panther’s loss was the Golden Knights gain. Smith would only play in 67 games this season but, you guessed it, he set a new career high in points with 60 – 22 goals and 38 assists. His playoff success mirrored that of his regular season, as he was over a point a game in the post season with 22 points in 20 games played.

He would have happily been sitting 5th in team scoring for Florida with his 60 points, and the Panthers really did lack scoring depth this season. Sitting at just +2 goal differential, Florida was approximately 43 goals off of their division mate and playoff race opponent Toronto Maple Leafs, and trailed them by 9 points at season end.

 

There always needs to be a loser, and if we justify losers by the players listed above who broke out for their respective NHL finals teams, Montreal and Florida fit the role perfectly. Both are disappointing in different manners for their fanbases, and both teamsvneeded what the players lost brought to their new teams a season ago.

For Montreal, their shining star Carey Price also takes a hit when comparing teams with Washington. Braeden Holtby the often second ranked Canadian goalkeeper behind Price, now has a Stanley Cup to his name and impressed in his playoff run. He can easily be justified over Price now with his new hardware in hand.

And for Florida (and outside of their players who lit it up for Vegas) it seems like just desserts for the team that so unceremoniously fired their likeable and successful head coach. Gerard Gallant, a shoe-in guarantee for the Jack Adams coach of the year trophy, deserves this success his new team enjoyed more than anyone. He was let go on the road against Carolina, literally on the curb outside of the team bus post game, players looking on from the bus. Now, he can boast the most successful expansion team in sports, while the Panthers achieved nothing this season.

For both Montreal and Florida, Washington and Vegas taking their scraps and incorporating them into elite, scoring teams should act as a wake up call. Rather than cut bait too soon, evaluate and cast your players right to maximize their potential. As mentioned at the top, it’s hard to call Vegas a loser in this Stanley Cup final. Roster moves from Montreal and Florida, however have made for nice losers for the 2017-18 finals.