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Photo Credit: © Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

Could Max Pacioretty be the winger the Oilers need?

According to TVA insider Renaud Lavoie, Max Pacioretty’s camp expects him to be moved within the next few days. The Oilers, as we know, have had a difficult time finding a high-end winger to play alongside Connor McDavid. Could Pacioretty be that player for the Oilers?

It’s been a nightmare season in Montreal, not unlike the one we’ve witnessed in Edmonton this year. The Habs are 20-23-6 after starting the season 1-7. It was expected that they would be one of the contenders in the Eastern Conference, and making the playoffs was virtually a formality.

But nothing has gone right. Carey Price, freshly signed to a massive contract extension worth $80 million, has been thoroughly unspectacular. Jonathan Drouin, who the team gave up stud rookie defender Mikhail Sergachev to acquire, has scored only seven goals. The blueline, featuring Shea Weber and Karl Alzner that was supposed to be the league’s best at shutting opponents down, has been mediocre. As a result, general manager Marc Bergevin has been put on the hot seat.

Like with the Oilers, it’s difficult to put a finger on exactly what’s gone wrong. Maybe the team got off to a bad start and they got down on themselves. Maybe the roster is deeply flawed and they’re relying way too much on Price. Maybe it’s a bunch of things. Regardless, it seems captain max Pacioretty is one of the scapegoats.

Pacioretty, despite having a pretty underwhelming season, leads the team in scoring with 31 points in 49 games. He’s scored at least 30 goals in six of the past seven seasons. The one blip on the radar came during the lockout-shortened 2012-13 year, but he was on pace to score 27 goals in an 82-game pace. This year, Pacioretty has buried 16 goals, which puts him on pace for 26 over an 82-game season.

I have a difficult time believing that Pacioretty is part of the problem in Montreal, but this is also the organization that dealt P.K. Subban in a one-for-one deal for Shea Weber because they felt he was an issue. I don’t think Weber is a player devoid of value by any stretch, but he’s older and carries an albatross contract, whereas Subban is currently leading the Nashville Predators in points. There’s no doubt who won that deal.

Pacioretty’s slump, if we can even really call it that, seems to be driven by a poor shooting percentage. He’s scoring on just 8.7 per cent of his shots in all situations, which is a career low. Last season, the Oilers sold low on Jordan Eberle after a career-low shooting percentage season and he’s quickly rebounded with the New York Islanders. Pacioretty, like Eberle last year, boasts very strong underlying numbers and would be a great bet for a rebound back to his career norm of 30+ goals. A difference between Pacioretty and Eberle, though, is the former is much, much stronger in the defensive aspect of the game.

The Oilers have been on the wrong side of some selling-low deals in the past. It would be great for them to capitalize on a team who seems to think a good player is a part of the problem that can become part of their solution.

Beyond that, he’s signed to an excellent contract. Pacioretty, who turned 29 years old in November, is inked for one more year at a measly $4.5 million cap hit. Starting next season, the Oilers will have Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl making a combined $21 million.

They have about $62 million committed to McDavid, Draisaitl, Milan Lucic, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Zack Kassian, Jesse Puljujarvi, Kailer Yamamoto, Andrej Sekera, Oscar Klefbom, Adam Larsson, Kris Russell, Cam Talbot, Al Montoya, and Benoit Pouliot’s buyout. That’s seven forwards, four defenders, and two goalies. Darnell Nurse, Matt Benning, Ryan Strome, Anton Slepyshev, Drake Caggiula, and Brandon Davidson are restricted free agents. It’s extremely difficult to get a winger as good as Pacioretty for as cheap as $4.5 million. I mean, the battle-worn Chris Kunitz cost the Tampa Bay Lightning $3 million in free agency last summer.

It was discussed back in the summer that the Oilers and Habs could be a nice match and that Nugent-Hopkins for Pacioretty could benefit both sides. Maybe now, given their horrible season and the fact Bergevin is on the hot seat, Pacioretty could be had for less than Nugent-Hopkins. The Habs badly need a centre, but they could also use some help on the blueline in regards to a puck-moving defenceman.

What say you, Nation? Is Pacioretty a realistic target? What would you be comfortable trading for him? Or is all this just in my imagination? 


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    • OilersFan999

      He will not be part of the deal he is injured and that will not help things in Montreal short term and they would most likely rather take some picks and prospects

  • Natejax97

    Question is…would you rather have Maroon or Patches…that’s what you have to answer first.

    Second…the cost will be Nuge (Maybe you get a middling prospect back as well). So No Maroon, No Nuge, but have Patches and a little bit of cap dollars to go try to get a 3C.

    Orrrrrrrrrrrrrr. We just trade Maroon at the deadline, and then make Nuge the first line left winger…see if Strome can grow into a 3C role, and go get a gritty 4C in the summer to play with Kassian.

  • inverno76

    Is Nuge more versatile? He’ plays the 2nd unit PP and 1st unit PK. A PK that has struggled mightily for two years in a row.

    The coaching staff has not put him on the wing for any considerable amount of time. Must be a reason why? It’s not like Mclellan is scared to move his centres around. He did it a ton in San Jose.

    Nuge is a good player playing a premium position having a bounce back season, but he’s hurt again.

    I dunno. Out of all of the moveable assets he makes the most sense to dump for a good return. NMC kill all the other pipedreams.

  • Rick Carriere

    that deal is not close…no way is Max equal to RNH…we have the best 1-2-3 center strength in the NHL…right now…a scoring right winger would be nice…