Expectations were high for Max Pacioretty last season after being named team captain but inconsistency and Montreal’s struggles made his year somewhat of a disappointment. Will he be in better form in 2016-17?
Pacioretty suffered a summer training injury that cost him the entire preseason but he was able to suit up on opening night (and was one of only four players to play in every game).
Statistically speaking, Pacioretty didn’t have a bad year overall. He led the team in scoring for a fifth straight season and hit the 30 goal mark for the fourth straight full campaign. However, his play in the second and third quarters of the season – when the team was starting its swoon and needed him to step up – was well below his capabilities (0.55 points per game versus 0.98 in quarters one and four).
He also was content shooting from the perimeter instead of attacking the net and while he does have a strong shot from around the faceoff dots, he’d have more opportunities if he drove towards the crease more often. On the happier side, he showed some chemistry with Alex Galchenyuk down the stretch when those two comprised the front line which should provide some cause for optimism heading into 2016-17.
Season Stats: 82 GP, 30 goals, 34 assists, 64 points, -10 rating, 34 PIMS, 8 PPG, 6 GWG, 303 shots, 18:32 ATOI
5 Year Averages
(Because of the lockout-shortened season, we are prorating all of 2012-13’s numbers over a full 82 game season.)
This one is pretty easy. Pacioretty has been Montreal’s top left winger for several years now and that’s not about to change any time soon. He’s likely to start next season alongside Galchenyuk and one of Brendan Gallagher or newcomer Alexander Radulov on a top line that should be a reliable and consistent threat offensively.
From a special teams standpoint, he once again will see plenty of power play time and with Kirk Muller expected to run the man advantage plus a dominant PP scorer from the point in Shea Weber, there’s reason for optimism that his numbers in that situation should improve. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him used more shorthanded as well. Lars Eller and Tomas Fleischmann (who ranked 5th and 6th in SH TOI/game among forwards) are gone while Brian Flynn and Jacob de la Rose – who had a higher SH TOI/game average than Pacioretty – are going to be in a dog fight for a roster spot. Andrew Shaw doesn’t kill penalties so the incumbents like Pacioretty are going to have to pick up the slack.
In an era where consistent goal scorers are hard to come by, Pacioretty has been one of the better ones league wide in recent years and there’s little reason to think that won’t be the case in 2016-17. Assuming he stays healthy, he should be in contention to lead the team in scoring once again.
From a pool perspective, Pacioretty should be one of the first few left wingers off the board in standard scoring leagues. Give him a boost in your rankings for pools that have extra emphasis on shots on goal as he is routinely among the league leaders in that category. Power play production hasn’t been a strength in recent years though (only 28 of his 131 points the last two years have come with the man advantage) which may be reason to drop him slightly down. However, if you’re optimistic that his numbers there will rebound with a new look power play, that shouldn’t be as much of a concern.