Early Monday morning, the news broke that the Montreal Canadiens had traded captain Max Pacioretty to the Vegas Golden Knights. This reassured the notion that the Knights will be looking to improve on their Stanley Cup Finals loss and make a run for the Cup.
As the Golden Knights owner Bill Foley announced the name and logo for his franchise, he assured fans and detractors alike that he planned to bring a Stanley Cup to Vegas within six years of their inaugural season. Now, as they've announced a Pacioretty extension for four more years at a $7 million AAV, it is clear that he plans to make good on that promise and that the team feels he is a member of their core. But, is Pacioretty enough? Let's look at what he brings to the table and his possible impact.
In September 2015, his Canadien's teammates voted to name him their captain. Now, being the captain of one of the league's most historic franchise is no small task and when it is decided by your peers, it speaks volumes. Especially, on a team that included names like Tomas Plekanec, Andrei Markov, P.K. Subban, and Carey Price. The former players were long-time Habs players who had been staples on their roster. The latter two were considered to be superstars in their respective positions and many considered Carey Price to be the best goalie in the world.
In order to beat out names like this, it is evident that Pacioretty was not only respected but had his teammate's full confidence. Not to mention, his impact on the community. In 2011, he created the Max Pacioretty Foundation to help the Montreal General Hospital get a high-performance MRI machine. This, combined with multiple instances of battling through injuries paints a vivid picture of a leader. This skill will be an asset as the Knights introduce more young players onto their team and as they look to make a push for the Stanley Cup.
It's undeniable that Max Pacioretty has been one of the league's most consistent snipers for a number of years. Over his career, Pacioretty has played in 626 games scoring 226 goals and adding 222 assists for 448 points, good for a PPG of 0.72. He started his professional career in the 2008-2009 season and spent the next three seasons getting sent up and down between the Canadiens and their AHL affiliate the Hamilton Bulldogs. The final season of his ELC saw him get injured by Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara who guided him towards a divider in the boards, giving him a concussion and a fractured vertebrae.
After this incident, it sparked an offensive flame inside of Pacioretty that has yet to burn out. Over the next six seasons, he scored more than 30 goals, failing to hit the mark in 2012-2013 due to the lockout-shortened season. During this time, Pacioretty ranked 16th in points for forwards. Unfortunately, last season was his most disappointing, playing only 64 games and scoring 17 goals and 37 points. However, this shouldn't worry many as the Habs only scored 204 goals as a team last season, good for third-worst in the league.
Filling the Void
The departures of James Neal and David Perron are sure to leave a hole on the Golden Knights roster, one that Pacioretty should be able to fill. He could be tasked with flanking William Karlsson, who scored 43 goals and added 35 assists for 75 points in a breakout year last season. Although many wouldn't be surprised if he took a dip in production next year, he may be the most skilled center that Max has played with.
If he can't find chemistry with William Karlsson, Pacioretty could find himself on a line with fellow newcomer Paul Stastny. Stastny signed this off-season to a three-year $6.5million AAV contract, after putting up 53 points in 82 games between the St. Louis Blues and Western Conference Finalist, Winnipeg Jets. During the playoffs, Stastny added another 15 points in 17 games before being knocked out by his new team. Whichever player Pacioretty plays alongside, he's sure to have an offensively gifted center to help him produce and is sure to help their point totals as well.
Some will say the Golden Knights paid a steep price to acquire Pacioretty, giving up Tomas Tatar, Nick Suzuki, and a second round pick. Looking at the qualities that Pacioretty brings, it's evident the team is better with him than without. Also, we're sure Bill Foley won't care if it means he gets to make good on his promise and bring the Stanley Cup to Las Vegas.