The hope for Max Pacioretty signing a long-term extension to stay with the Habs appears to be just about done now. Marc Antoine Godin of The Athletic is reporting that GM Marc Bergevin has told Pacioretty that there will be no contract talks and that they will look to trade him as soon as possible.
This is the latest in what can only be described as a very odd saga these last few weeks. After not moving him at the trade deadline, Pacioretty became a strong candidate at the draft to be moved. There was plenty of speculation about a trade to the Kings, the Islanders, and the Sharks but nothing actually came to fruition.
Meanwhile, Pacioretty quickly changed agents partway during the draft moving from Pat Brisson and CAA Sports to Allan Walsh of Octagon Hockey. While some speculated that the move was to bring in a more adversarial negotiator to the table in the hopes of getting a trade done, it should be noted that Montreal has worked out quite a few contracts with Walsh in recent years.
Walsh declined to comment on the situation but reaffirmed Pacioretty’s preference to stay put:
“I’ll reiterate what Max has said a number of times, that he loves Montreal, he holds Montreal dear to his heart and he hopes to stay.”
The odds of that happening appear to be lessening by the day.
There are a few things working against Bergevin and the Habs here. Pacioretty’s reported contract request (and the years and dollar amount have varied) is believed to be very high and considering he’s coming off of his worst year in quite some time, that’s going to be a tough sell to other general managers.
Then there’s the Jeff Skinner situation in Carolina which largely resembles this one. Skinner is in the final year of his contract, is a consistent scorer, and his team seems to badly want to get rid of him. Teams interested in Pacioretty are also going to have interest in Skinner which will result in some lower offers in the hopes that one of Bergevin or Hurricanes GM Don Waddell will blink. The low return for Mike Hoffman certainly doesn’t help either (although obviously there were other factors in play).
At this point, even bringing Pacioretty into training camp would create a massive circus that no one involved really wants to see or be a part of. That doesn’t help their leverage either.
On the flip side, at a $4.5 million cap hit, most teams should be able to fit Pacioretty onto their roster still without too much difficulty which helps things. Considering Montreal’s salary cap situation, there’s a good chance that they’d be open to retaining or taking back a sizable contract to help get them a better return as well.
For someone that has been as committed to the franchise as long as Pacioretty has while being one of the better scorers in the league during that time, this overt determination to move him is certainly a little strange. However, it seems like it’s only a matter of time before the Habs get their way.