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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.

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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.

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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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January Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, and we’re starting conversations to help people see dementia differently.

We’ve spoken to people living with dementia from across the country who’ve shared openly about their challenges and triumphs.

Like Mary Beth, who was diagnosed when she was 45 and became a fierce advocate for the rights of people with dementia. There’s also Mario, who got his diagnosis a year after he retired and, while it changed what he expected of his future, he has embraced it anyway, volunteering in his community, and taking up photography to express himself creatively. And then there’s Naomi, whose mum was diagnosed at 54, and who is a dedicated daughter, caregiver, and advocate for change in the way dementia is viewed in Canada.  You can read about each of their journeys via the web-link below.