As Joe Haggerty suggested in the Wednesday edition of BHN Puck Links, it makes a ton of sense for the Boston Bruins to jumpstart the NHL Trade market and tick off Montreal Canadiens fans by trading for former Habs captain and Vegas Golden Knights winger Max Pacioretty.
With the suddenly realistic target dates and realignment coming into focus, NHL Trade chatter and free agency banter has picked up significantly.
“It’s coming!” an upper management member of one NHL team told Boston Hockey Now Wednesday morning.
What ensued was something NHL fans and media alike have been starving for, pure hockey talk! NHL Trade rumors; free agent chatter and just the buzz and banter that has been missing since basically two weeks after NHL free agency started on October 9.
With TSN and numerous other outlets reporting Tuesday night and Wednesday morning that Pacioretty was available, numerous teams that had been connected to Pacioretty in the past emerged as trade suitors for Pacioretty who carries a $7 million cap hit for two more seasons. Boston Hockey Now was hearing a common thread when it came to Pacioretty and that was the Kings and the Penguins.
Early Wednesday evening, an NHL source confirmed to Pittsburgh Hockey Now that the Pittsburgh Penguins had circled back on the former Montreal Canadiens captain that the Penguins pursued via trade when Pacioretty hit the NHL trade market back during the 2018 NHL Entry Draft. He was eventually dealt to the Knights.
Earlier in the day, two NHL sources connected to the discussions, confirmed to Boston Hockey Now and Vegas Hockey Now that the Los Angeles Kings have also circled back on Pacioretty and are as one source put it:
“Definitely interested in finishing the deal they thought they had two years ago at the draft.”
You may recall at the 2018 NHL Entry Draft in Dallas, the Kings thinking they had a deal in place for Pacioretty to be dealt from the Habs to Tinsel Town. The Kings insisted on Pacioretty – who was heading into the final season of his contract with the Canadiens – signing an extension for the trade to be consummated. With the Canadiens getting the Kings’ first round pick at 20th overall, the deal was extremely time-sensitive, and with Pacioretty away on vacation in Florida, Habs GM Marc Bergevin wasn’t able to reach Pacioretty until essentially the last minute and that’s when Pacioretty invoked his no-trade clause nixing the deal and halting any further talks.
That is until this week.
“Yes. There have been numerous talks and different scenarios thrown around,” another source told BHN and VHN. “This is definitely going to cost the Knights a first round pick too. …maybe even a future second.”
But does that second round pick now or next year really help where the Kings are going right now?
“I don’t know if the Kings decide to just stay the course here because they’re coming, you know that,” the source went on. “Does that pick really help their maturation to the progression path they’re on? The Kings are looking to start to contend for the playoffs two, three years for real. We’ll see.”
In addition to the Penguins and Kings, the New York Rangers, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, Buffalo Sabres, Florida Panthers, Columbus Blue Jackets, and Winnipeg Jets were mentioned amongst various sources as potential suitors for Pacioretty.
Just 26 months after the Canadiens sent shockwaves through their dressing room and aftershocks across the NHL by trading their captain, there’s a strong chance he’s on the move again. Pacioretty, 32, is coming off his sixth 30-goal season after lighting the lamp 32 times in 71 regular season games and then five more times in 16 games during the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Golden Knights have already seen major turnover this offseason, signing highly coveted UFA defenseman Alex Pietrangelo and trading away key cogs in the dressing room in center Paul Stastny and defenseman Nate Schmidt.
Tom Callahan weighed what a Pacioretty trade would mean for the Knights going forward and with numerous suitors, there’s a solid chance it can get done. The question from here is which teams take the least advantage of Kelly McCrimmon’s salary cap crunch with a mandate to compete for the Stanley Cup after making the Final in the Knights’ maiden voyage in 2017-18?