Max Pacioretty’s 2017-18 campaign was so disappointing that it has led many to believe that the captain will not be wearing the Habs uniform when the season starts. The trade winds have died down over the summer which has caused a series of false rumours concerning the captain. The more days go by, the more it appears likely Pacioretty will at the very least begin the season with the Canadiens. Will he be able to rebound? Impending free agency and seasonal averages suggest that he corrects last year’s numbers while a similar supporting staff casts a significant shadow over that possibility.
The season was a struggle for Pacioretty right out of the gate as he scored four goals but added no other points in the 12 games played in October. The 15 games in November had him looking like the perennial offensive leader that he is on this team. He would score another four goals but also added eight assists for a solid 12 points. The roller coaster on and off the ice would continue from there.
Pacioretty went without a goal in December’s 12 games, while only chipping in four assists. January was better with eight goals and three helpers. Unfortunately, Pacioretty lasted only 14 more games where produced one goal and five assists before a March 3rd injury against the Islanders prematurely ended his season.
All in all, Pacioretty’s production this past season was his lowest career total considering games played since his rookie campaign. It was also his worst defensive season ever as he came in at a whopping -16. Odds are even if he doesn’t return to his usual mid-60 point total, he should score more than last year’s outlier of 37 points.
5 Year Averages
At this moment, Pacioretty stands to play with Jonathan Drouin and Brendan Gallagher on the top line. Gallagher’s ability to re-establish himself as a scoring threat last year could provide Pacioretty with some space in shooting areas. Any other line combination will leave Pacioretty as a player who needs to create his own opportunities, a task he failed at last season. This last scenario might be forced on the team if Drouin’s transition to centre does not continue down the path it concluded on last season.
The one aspect of Pacioretty’s game that could correct his numbers would be a successful power play. He’ll get the right flank to himself this year after Alex Galchenyuk’s departure. Will he be able to succeed there this time around?
Of course, the real question surrounding Pacioretty is how long he will remain in Montreal. Many experts are choosing the Habs to be bottom-feeders this season which would indicate that Pacioretty will be one of the most sought-after commodities at this year’s deadline.
Fans can dislike his demeanour and his captaincy all they want; the numbers show that last year was an anomaly. Until Pacioretty displays more than one down year, one must assume he’ll return to his usual numbers. With his forecasted ability to finally cash in financially at the end of the season, Pacioretty will certainly have the necessary motivation to return to previous production numbers. Without those numbers, Pacioretty does not represent a good enough complete player to receive the type of compensation that he is rumoured to be seeking.
As a fantasy player, he remains a high pick in leagues that value goals and shots above all else. The rest of his stats are average so his value lowers in leagues that look at hits, PIMs, or +/-. At the low end of expectations, Pacioretty should reach 20 goals and 45 points. 30 goals and 60 points are the expected numbers which should be good enough to see Pacioretty selected in any fantasy league format. That could skyrocket if he is sent to a team that has the players to make him produce even more.