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 Top Picks Trouble for Timmins?

BergevinTimmins

With the NHL Draft coming up, Trevor Timmins and his team are working alongside Marc Bergevin to determine the Montreal Canadiens’ next moves when it comes to replenishing the prospects’ cupboards. The Canadiens’ General Manager has always been reluctant to trade his draft picks, particularly his top rounds picks, and when he does (see the Andrew Shaw trade), he usually tries to get them back somehow (see the Lars Eller trade).

There is little doubt that the loss of Mikhail Sergachev, the team’s top prospect, sacrificed in the trade to acquire Jonathan Drouin, has contributed to depleting the quality and depth of the prospect pool. Sergachev, who many including myself saw as Andrei Markov‘s eventual replacement, had some immense potential and time will tell if he reaches it. But looking at the Canadiens’ top picks over the last few years, one has to wonder if he will.

Those of follow this blog will remember the complete analysis of Timmins’ track record with the Canadiens since 2003 proving that he did quite well, but when taking a closer look at the top two rounds of the draft, it seems like his record isn’t as shiny as his overall performance. But as you know, I’m not one going on speculations rather than facts so let’s get right to it and look at Timmins’ picks in the top two rounds over the years, and where those players are today. Notice how 2007 was a homerun year for Timmins in the top two rounds…

2003

  • Andrei Kostitsyn – 1st round, 10th overall – 398 NHL games played
  • Cory Urquhart – 2nd round, 40th overall – 0 NHL games played
  • Maxim Lapierre – 2nd round, 61st overall – 614 NHL games played

2004

  • Kyle Chipchura – 1st round, 18th overall – 482 NHL games played

2005

  • Carey Price – 1st round, 5th overall – 509 NHL games played
  • Guillaume Latendresse – 2nd round, 45th overall – 341 NHL games played

2006

  • David Fisher – 1st round, 20th overall – 0 NHL games played
  • Ben Maxwell – 2nd round, 49th overall – 47 NHL games played
  • Mathieu Carle – 2nd round, 53th overall – 3 NHL games played

    2007Draft
    Class of 2007

2007

  • Ryan McDonagh – 1st round, 12th overall – 467 NHL games played
  • Max Pacioretty – 1st round, 22nd overall – 562 NHL games played
  • P.K. Subban – 2nd round, 43rd overall – 500 NHL games played

2008

  • Dany Kristo – 2nd round, 56th overall – 0 NHL games played

2009

  • Louis Leblanc – 1st round, 18th overall – 50 NHL games played

2010

  • Jarred Tinordi – 1st round, 22nd overall – 53 NHL games played

2011

  • Nathan Beaulieu – 1st round, 17th overall – 225 NHL games played

2012

  • Alex Galchenyuk – 1st round, 3rd overall – 336 NHL games played
  • Sebastian Collberg – 2nd round, 33rd overall – 0 NHL games played
  • Dalton Thrower – 2nd round, 51st overall – 0 NHL games played

2013

  • Michael McCarron – 1st round, 25th overall – 51 NHL games played
  • Jacob De la Rose – 2nd round, 34th overall – 64 NHL games played
  • Zachary Fucale – 2nd round, 36th overall – 0 NHL games played
  • Arturri Lehkonen – 2nd round, 55th overall – 73 NHL games played

2014

  • Nikita Scherbak – 1st round, 26th overall – 3 NHL games played

2015

  • Noah Juulsen – 1st round, 26th overall – 0 NHL games played

2016

  • Mikhail Sergachev – 1st round, 9th overall – 4 NHL games played

 

I don’t know about you, but I was shocked at the number of misses in Timmins’ top two rounds, guys who didn’t even make the NHL in some cases. Granted that drafting is not a perfect science as you are not only evaluating a players’ skills at 17-18 years olds amongst peers of his own age, but you are asking recruiters to trying to predict not only the ceiling of those teenagers, but their development as well. This is why I am a strong supporter of moving the draft age up from 18 to 19 years of age. Not a huge difference, but an improvement none the less.

At the time of writing these lines, Timmins will have six players to select on Friday and Saturday in Chicago. The Canadiens will select 25th overall in the first round, then will be speaking twice in the second round: their own pick at 56th and the Washington Capitals’ pick at 58th, obtained in the Lars Eller trade. The Habs also have two third round picks as they will speak at 68th, the pick they received from the Buffalo Sabres for Nathan Beaulieu, and again at 87th with their own pick. They will then pick again at number 149, in the fifth round before calling it the day, unless trades occur.