As the NHL’s trade deadline approaches on Feb. 26, there could be more big-name players available than we’ve seen in several years. One of those names, provided the Montreal Canadiens don’t suddenly get red hot, is Max Pacioretty. Despite the Canadiens’ captain still having a year left on his extremely team-friendly contract ($4.5 million cap hit) after this season, the rumours have been swirling for months that Pacioretty could be on the move, and his goal scoring struggles this season have only fanned the flames. Over the past five seasons, including this one, Pacioretty has scored the eighth-most goals in the entire NHL with 153, and the fourth-most at even strength with 110. If you remove this season from the equation, Pacioretty jumps to the fourth-most goals overall, behind only Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby, and Joe Pavelski. At even strength, only Vladimir Tarasenko scored more than Pacioretty’s 102 goals from 2013 to 2017, with 103. For those who argue Pacioretty piles up unimportant goals, it’s true that he leads the league in empty netters the past five years with 13, tied with Blake Wheeler and Michael Grabner. But that still leaves 140 more goals and 37 of them were game-winners (second-most in the NHL), 31 were the first goal of the game (tied for fourth-most), and eight were overtime goals (tied for third-most). When playing in all situations and having the goal scoring ability Pacioretty does, you’ll end up with some empty netters along the way. When I ranked the top-23 players in the NHL at each position coming into this season, Pacioretty came in fifth among all left wingers, with the weakest area of his game being transitioning the puck up the ice — and he still ranked as a high-end second line talent.
Why the Canadiens should get a massive return if they trade Max Pacioretty
Sportsnet | Jan 17