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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.

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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.

The Nation Roundup

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.

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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.

The Nation Roundup

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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  • puckle-head

    Hmm.. this is a tough one. If his current contract were longer, I’d say trade for the guy obviously, but he’s a free agent after next year. If we send some valuable assets (of which we have few left) to Montreal for Paccioretty, we are going to end up at the end of next season with a 30 year old FA looking to get a big paycheck we likely won’t afford. On the other hand, if we can morph into a cup contender by next year, then it’d be worth it to have an elite winger playing with McDavid for 2018/19. Of course, that’s a big if, and given the fact that Chia has done a great job making sure we don’t have much trade value left, I find myself thinking this is an opportunity the Oilers have to pass on. Maybe if Pacioretty’s contract was longer, or the Oilers were better, or the Oilers had more assets to spend on trades with short term upsides, but that’s not reality.

  • bleedingcoppernblue

    I wouldn’t trade Nuge for Pacioretty period mostly due to contract status and age. I would do Strome plus in a heartbeat. Add in a defensive prospect or even a second round pick (just not a first). Don’t know Montreal would bite though.

    • toprightcorner

      The Habs want to improve their team witj a significant player if they trade Patch, no chance Strome is their key request. This is a multi player trade

  • vetinari

    My brother-in-law is a diehard Habs fan and his take sounds a bit like what we were saying about Eberele a year ago… streaky player who doesn’t play a heavy game and disappear for games at a stretch but somehow keeps showing up on the scoreboard. I would take a flyer on him if the price is right but I wouldn’t break the bank on a guy signed for only one more year and is having problems. Both teams are at about the same money, cap wise, but the deal would likely have to be bigger than a one-for-one.

    • puckle-head

      You know, if you go back to 2010, only 3 players have scored more goals than Max Pacioretty: Ovechkin, Stamkos, and Tavares. And Pacioretty accomplished that in Montreal, with almost no talent to work with. To be clear, I actually agree with your assessment that he’s probably hard to justify acquiring, due to his expiring contract, but I do think he deserves a little more credit than you’re giving him, he keeps some pretty elite company. Hell, he’s on pace for 27 goals in his off season.

      • Derzie

        If you go further back to the 80s, no one has scored more than Gretzky, but you wouldn’t want him playing today. GMs get caught up in the past predicting the future too much. Players go from hero to zero in the blink of an eye in today’s game. Max is better than he is showing but not the same player as before.

  • Mark Lesser

    I saw Montreal message boards thinking that the Canadiens should move Weber for Nurse and the Oilers 1st this year. So I assume for Pacioretty they want McDavid.

    • oilers1168

      I think they should give us Carry Price and they can keep paying for his entire contract. They sign him to one of the worst contrasts imagable. That would only be fair for stupidity

      • jultz=2cups!??

        Are you actually trying to say that price didn’t deserve the contract he got??? Wow!! Oilersnation is more delusional than I thought. He’s the best goalie in the world and if you guys don’t think so, then I have been right about you guys all along lol. Definitely explains your guys love for klefbom. You guys clearly don’t understand hockey. Hahaha