Pacioretty: When, Where And How Much?

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With the Montreal Canadiens’ 2017-2018 season taking a turn for the worse, at risk of missing the playoffs, many fans and media members have reached the decision making point. In fact, there are three options: start a full rebuilt, a reload or load up at the deadline, a very unlikely scenario. With 40 points in 42 games, the Canadiens have to leapfrog six teams in hope to make the playoffs, or three teams to make it to the bottom three in the league for a better shot at the number one overall draft pick.

While showing his disappointment and acknowledging that the odds were stacked against his team, General Manager Marc Bergevin said, during his recent press conference, that he still believes that this group can turn things around this season. For that to happen, everyone knows that some changes need to happen and that’s where the rumour-mill is going wild around the NHL.

The most often mentioned name out there for the Habs? Captain Max Pacioretty who, with his 10 goals in 42 games this season, is far from his steady 30-39 goals production in the past few years. Many will agree, Bergevin included, that his failure in finding an offensive centre worth that title is what’s holding Pacioretty back and no one knows better than the GM that if traded to a team with such asset, the sniper would likely heat up wherever he’s traded. And that’s why Bergevin must be very careful. The “step back” from this season weights a lot and if he doesn’t get full value for his best asset, he might as well submit his resignation.

Pacioretty’s worth

But how much can the Canadiens realistically expect for their captain if they were to trade him? Everybody and anybody can take a stab in the dark in hope to find Pacioretty’s trade value but let’s take a more… logical approach. Let’s find parallels, similar situations that will at least give us a gauge of what such player can fetch.

Some have brought up the Phil Kessel trade when acquired by the Leafs from the Bruins… but that was over eight years ago. A better barometer might just be the most recent trade of a saga which finally came to an end: Matt Duchene. The Avalanche’s centre was rumoured to be on the trade market for a long time and team GM Joe Sakic stuck to his guns… and got full value for him. Here’s how the trade broke down:

To Ottawa
(C) Matt Duchene

To Nashville
(C) Kyle Turris

To Colorado
OTT’s 1st round pick
OTT’s 3rd round pick
NSH’s 2nd round pick
(C) Shane Bowers
(G) Andrew Hammond
(D) Samuel Girard
(LW) Vladislav Kamenev

In other words, the Avalanche received a first, second and third round pick, a prospect recently selected in the first round (Bowers), two prospect recently selected in the second round (Girard and Kamenev) and, watch your food, the Hamburglar. They received all of that for a guy who came out of 41 points season with a not-so-flattering minus – 34 rating. It sure makes you wonder, doesn’t it?

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In fact, just looking at the last three years, we can compare Pacioretty to Duchene very favourably. The Habs’ captain had more goals (obviously), but also more assists and more points than his counterpart. While playing similar minutes on the powerplay, Pacioretty has been more productive and to top it up, the winger can be used in shorthanded situations.

Duchene playing centre is a plus, definitely, but Pacioretty is one of the NHL’s top goals’ scorers over the past few years, a legitimate, fast left winger who has never had a true number one centre feeding him the puck. Duchene has one year left to a contract with a $6 million cap hit, while Pacioretty also has one year left, but with a $4.5 million cap hit.

So put yourself in Bergevin’s shoes for a minute. What is your asking price for Pacioretty? We know that the Canadiens have two glaring needs: a top line offensive centre and a mobile left-handed defenseman to eat up minutes alongside Shea Weber.

Taking into consideration that Pacioretty does not have a no-trade or no-movement clause in his contract, meaning that he can be traded to the most offering team, adding the fact that American teams would love to have one of their own, a member of Team USA, rest assured that Pacioretty’s value is quite high and that, in spite of his sub-par season thus far.

Trade deadline

Some people are arguing that Pacioretty could be moved prior to the February 26th trade deadline but allow me to doubt that. Not that it couldn’t happen, but the likeliness is minimal, unless a team offers Bergevin the moon, which teams tend to avoid doing in a trade.

“If [a trade] happens, it happens. I’m very proud of the past success I’ve had in Montreal.” ~ Max Pacioretty

If you’re Bergevin, why not wait until the NHL Draft before pulling the trigger? For one thing, the picks’ position (if any) would already be assigned, avoiding the conditional clauses in a trade. But also, there are those teams who would love to add Pacioretty but find themselves in a playoffs’ spot battle, so they can’t afford to give up enough, as much as they might be able to during the off-season… particularly for those teams under the gun after an early exit or those who will go through a GM change.

If I were a betting man, I would say that when comes March, the Canadiens will have the same captain in place but as the Draft approach, I would definitely keep my ear to the ground to listen for that freight train coming. Go Habs Go!

 

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Habs’ Twitter Blunder… Or Not

duchenehabs

Sometimes, fans and media get rather desperate and this year seems to follow the trend of last year. The loss of a couple of key players from last season seems to have overtaken fans and media’s mind, even making them forget the gains the Montreal Canadiens have made this summer. This has for effect to blow little things out of proportion, even taking everything as facts even if it makes absolutely no sense. Guys like Eklund, for example, have been feeding on this for many years now.

The Habs’ fan base had a perfect example this week when a Reddit user apparently caught a glimpse at Colorado Avalanche’s forward Matt Duchene‘s Twitter account noticing that the Montreal Canadiens’ Twitter had, for a very short time, followed the centre’s account.

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It didn’t take more to make this the talk of town amongst Habs’ fans. It is no secret that Duchene and the Avalanche are not in best terms and team GM Joe Sakic has admitted listening to offers for him. It has also been well documented that the Canadiens, in desperate need of a top-two lines centre, are one of the most serious suiters for Duchene, as reported as recently as earlier this week by the most notable NHL insiders. But not so fast folk!

Common sense

Who runs the Montreal Canadiens’ Twitter account do you think? If you answer Marc Bergevin or any of the people “in the know” of classified information about such topics like trades or player signings, I’m sorry to say that you are dead wrong. And it’s not Geoff Molson either folks. No, the twitter account is maned by a few staff members in the social media section of the PR department, no more, no less.

So before taking this to the bank as the Canadiens having a deal in place for Duchene, ask yourself: would Bergevin and his team inform the Twitter account users or the NHL for an announcement? Yeah, that’s what I thought.

Also, don’t you think that it’s bizarre that nobody else but this user saw that and “reported” it immediately? Further, in a world where fake Twitter accounts pop up at every trade deadline or free agency period, have you ever heard of how easy it is to photoshop something like that, to get their 5 minutes of fame?

Some are comparing this to the instance of this past summer when Alexei Emelin started following the Las Vegas Golden Knights on Twitter. We all know that Vegas ended up claiming Emelin at the expansion draft. However, those making the correlation are forgetting one important fact: a player finding out that a team will select them at an expansion draft is NOT the same as a NHL social media team staff finding out about a trade of such magnitude as Duchene to Montreal. Nowhere close, even.

Conclusion

While there is no doubt that Matt Duchene has been on the Habs Radar for quite some time, there are two possibilities, in my humble opinion:

1- It was made up and photoshop

Yes, this is the most likely possibility, in spite of the desperation in hoping that Marc Bergevin would pull the trigger to address one of the Canadiens’ biggest need. Someone feeding on the biggest fan base’s desperation, what an incredible concept, right?

2- It was a mistake

The staff tweeting from the Canadiens’ Twitter account all have their own personal Twitter account as well and it is very likely that they all use Apps and programs such as UberSocial, TweetDeck, HootSuite (just to name a few) to run their multiple accounts. If you have used those yourself, you will know how easy it is to mistakenly pick the wrong account. I’m guessing that if the image is legitimate and that the Canadiens’ account followed Duchene for a short time, it was a staff member wanting to follow him from his personal account and clicked the wrong account to do so. Realizing the mistake, the Tweet was immediately deleted.

So before letting desperation dictate our thoughts, let’s think the situation over folks. Yes, it is possible that Bergevin and the Canadiens get their hands on Duchene. They have $8.4 million reasons do to so and definitely the need for him. But if or when that happens, you can bet your pay check that the NHL and major insiders like Bob McKenzie, Darren Dreger, Pierre LeBrun or Elliott Friedman will know and publish the news well before Mr. or Mrs. Smith working the team’s Twitter account. I’m not a betting man but I would definitely gamble on that one.

If you would like to follow Matt Duchene on Twitter, you can do so by following @Matt9Duchene. If you are wanting to do this and are handling the Montreal Canadiens’ official Twitter account, please ensure that you are doing it from your personal account, not to give desperate fans a heart attack. Go Habs Go!!!