Max Pacioretty has led Montreal in points for each of the last six years. Will he continue to lead the way or will this be the year that someone else takes the top spot?
It may sound like a convoluted way to describe a player but in Pacioretty’s case, he’s consistently inconsistent but consistent at the same time. As always, he is subject to a lot of hot-and-cold streaks throughout the year (consistently inconsistent) but at the end of the season, he has more than 30 goals and at least 60 points (consistent).
This past season was no exception. He was a permanent fixture on Montreal’s top line and power play through the highs and the lows. Unfortunately for him and the Habs, he started to tail off towards the end of the season and that carried over to the playoffs where, despite getting quite a few chances, he failed to score against the Rangers in their first round loss.
One stat to note from last season was that his shots per game took a bit of a dip. While he still checked in with a strong 3.31 per game, that was his lowest average of any of his six full NHL seasons. At the same time, he posted the second best shooting percentage of his career at 13.1%.
Season Stats: 81 GP, 35 goals, 32 assists, 67 points, +15 rating, 38 PIMS, 8 PPG, 7 GWG, 268 shots, 19:11 ATOI
Playoff Stats: 6 GP, 0 goals, 1 assist, 1 point, -2 rating, 7 PIMS, 0 PPG, 0 GWG, 28 shots, 20:44 ATOI
Five Year Averages
(Because of the lockout-shortened season, we are pro-rating all of 2012-13’s numbers over a full 82 game season.)
Barring injury, it’s quite hard to foresee a scenario where Pacioretty isn’t on the top line pretty much every night. Even if Jonathan Drouin lines up as a left winger, I still think he’d slot in behind Pacioretty as the captain is a better all-around player. He’ll see plenty of power play time as well.
What will be a bit more interesting to see is his usage on the penalty kill. His shorthanded ATOI has dipped the last couple of years. Does that change with Claude Julien behind the bench for his first full season with the team? If so, will that take away from his power play time? He hasn’t typically been a high-end sniper with the man advantage and it’s not likely the team will want him at the 20 minute a game mark. That will be worth watching for.
There aren’t many players that you can safely pencil in for 30 goals and 60 points but Pacioretty is one of those, assuming he stays healthy. Fortunately, he has played in at least 89% of Montreal’s games in each of his six full seasons and has managed to do so despite dealing with some notable injuries along the way.
From a pool perspective, he’s a much safer pick in points-based leagues than head-to-head ones given the volatility in his production. For those in the latter category, a hot streak could singlehandedly win a week or two but when he trails off, he could cost a fantasy team a week or two. Give him a boost in the rankings for leagues with shots as a category but make sure to note the drop in his hits last season from 102 to 63. He’s likely to stay more of a perimeter player so there’s a good chance he won’t hit the century mark in hits this coming year so slide him back a little in leagues that count that stat.