Rabid Habs

Is Max Pacioretty Untouchable?

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Yesterday, on a local radio show, former NHL referee Ron Fournier had a very interesting segment (link to 98.5 Sports).  In a nut shell he said that: Montreal are through with disappointing pick Louis Leblanc, a lot of teams are calling for Ryan White & Josh Gorges and that the Habs may be shopping one of their top 6 forwards for a defenseman or that big forward they need.

That leads me to believe that, like previously reported by RDS, negotiations aren’t going well with Unrestricted Free Agent Andrei Markov and that Bergevin might be looking for a back-up plan to replace the Russian defender.

Fournier added that the player available might SHOCK the hockey world. He said it was a goal scorer, he said that the trade would be a headline all over Montreal. He added that the player is in his prime and just came off a really good season. He emphasized on the fact that the Habs management are looking for players who will buy in the system and that they want more warriors a la Brendan Gallagher. Tokarski, according to him, could be used as an asset to finalize the trade he’s talking about (same for White). He GUARANTEES a trade will happen this summer… On top of that, he specified to the co-host of his show that the player in question wasn’t Tomas Plekanec.

I don’t know about you but with all that information, the only possible player I can think of is: Max Pacioretty!?! But would that be a BRUTAL MISTAKE?

From a certain point of view, it could make sense when you consider that Pacioretty came off a really disappointing performance in the playoffs and that despite his many mea culpa, he didn’t deliver on many nights. His performances when it matters most are concerning to say the least. He was hardly noticeable at the Olympics and his playoffs stats are less than stellar (1 goal in 5 games with Hamilton, 11 points in 21 NHL playoffs games). I also wasn’t too fond on his comments following the playoffs either (see Arpon Basu’s tweets from June 4th) . He said that he had trouble dealing with the pressure from the fans and felt some of his criticism was unwarranted since he just came off a 39 goal season, sounds a lot like former 50 goal scorer Stephane Richer if you ask me… It’s worth noting that there were rumours back in November when things weren’t going well for Pacioretty (he had 2 goals and 4 points in 12 games) that he didn’t like Therrien’s system and thought it was the main reason for the team’s lack of goal scoring. Another aspect to consider is that his value is probably at the highest it will EVER be, that could be a brilliant or maybe moronic, time to cash out and get an incredible package for him.

Here’s the reality with even thinking about trading Pacioretty: with Vanek probably not re-signing, who the hell is supposed to score our goals? Brendan Gallagher? I love the kid but he will never sniff 40 goals like Pacioretty just did this season. For a team who finished 21st in Goals For this season, this is a pretty big deal. You simply can’t trade your best scorer for a defenseman, as good as that defenseman may be, it just makes absolutely no sense. Pacioretty had 28 Even Strength goals which are 12(!) more than the runner-up on this team. The 39 goal scorer also scored some very important goals this season, he scored the Game Winning Goal 11 times (which was the most by anybody in the league), to contextualize that number, he scored the GWG 11 times out of 40 regulation plus OT games. That’s 27.5% of the time! His 39 goals also represent 18% of Montreal’s goal production this season. Add that to the fact that he scored the 1st goal of the game 9 times. Oh and did I mention that he’s signed to arguably the best contract in the whole league with a cap hit of 4.5 million for 5 more years? There’s also the fact that without Pacioretty, I honestly have trouble justifying the presence of David Desharnais in the line-up. If the rumours are true about Pacioretty, I hope he’s packaged with his buddy.

I wouldn’t take out my pitchfork if Bergevin actually pulled the trigger on a deal involving the American sniper IF the other team truly overpaid for him. What do I mean by overpay? Something like Andrew Ladd and Jacob Trouba or Cam Fowler and Devante-Smith Pelly… Something of that magnitude because otherwise there’s no point. It just seems like the opposite of what Bergevin has preached since being hired and would go against his principle of sticking to his long term vision.

Now the question is would YOU pull the trigger?