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Following knee injury, have we seen last of Max Pacioretty with Canadiens?

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The Montreal Canadiens’ 6-3 win over the New York Islanders on Friday was a costly one. Both Victor Mete and captain Max Pacioretty suffered injuries during the game and have likely seen their seasons come to a close.

Mete is out six weeks after fracturing a finger while Pacioretty will be sidelined 4-6 weeks with a knee injury.

Considering Montreal’s playoff hopes have been gone for some time, have we seen the last of Pacioretty in a Habs uniform?

The 29-year-old Pacioretty still has a year left on his deal, but there’s no question he was available for the right price before last Monday’s trade deadline. He admitted that the questions about his future in Montreal wore on him, and he was glad that he was still a member of the bleu, blanc et rouge.

[What should potential Pacioretty trade look like for Canadiens?]

“It’s no surprise, my name was out there,” Pacioretty said. “I don’t know what else you guys want me to say other than I’m ready to go home and get a good night’s sleep. It’s been an emotional couple of days here and I’m happy to still be a part of this team. Moving forward, everyone has to hold themselves accountable for where we’re at right now, and I definitely do so.”

The Canadiens are in the midst of a retool and it’s anyone’s guess if Marc Bergevin, who reportedly aimed high while seeking out a Pacioretty trade, will still be the general manager by the off-season; so there will be plenty of questions moving forward about how to turn around the team’s fortunes. Montreal has a possible 10 picks in the opening five rounds of June’s entry draft, including four in the second. Those are assets that can facilitate trades to speed up the process.

But would Pacioretty be served better by a fresh start elsewhere or a clean slate in Montreal? He can sign an extension this summer, which would prevent him from entering next season as a pending unrestricted free agent. Now that he’s staying in Montreal for now, it might be a good thing for both player and management to take a step back and wait until the summer before evaluating the future.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Max Pacioretty opens up about ’emotional’ few days

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Heading into Monday’s NHL trade deadline, there was plenty of speculation surrounding Max Pacioretty‘s availability on the trade market. In the end, the Montreal Canadiens decided against trading their captain away mid-season.

Pacioretty was clearly aware of everything that was going on because he hasn’t looked like himself on the ice over the last few days/weeks. Also, teammate Phillip Danault mentioned something to that effect after Monday’s morning skate.

The five-time 30-goal scorer refused to talk to the media Monday morning, but he spoke to reporters after Monday night’s 1-0 shootout loss to the Philadelphia Flyers. Pacioretty was clearly relieved to still be with the only NHL team he’s ever played for, and that was apparent in his answers.

“It’s no surprise, my name was out there,” Pacioretty said. “I don’t know what else you guys want me to say other than I’m ready to go home and get a good night’s sleep. It’s been an emotional couple of days here and I’m happy to still be a part of this team. Moving forward, everyone has to hold themselves accountable for where we’re at right now, and I definitely do so.”

He also didn’t hide the fact that his young family is also very relieved now that the trade deadline has come and gone.

“I have three kids and you always prepare for the worst, just in case,” he said. “Actually, Max junior went to school today with a Habs jersey on. We went to pick him up and we felt good about walking through the school with that jersey. It’s just little stuff like that you worry about your family. At the end of the day, we’re all human. I take full responsibility for where my game is at and how I’ve contributed to the negatives of this season. But, to be honest, guys, I can’t shoulder the whole thing. That’s unfair to myself and to my family.”

The 29-year-old Pacioretty can become an unrestricted free agent after next season, so the organization will have to make a decision on whether or not to extend him. He’s currently carrying a very reasonable $4.5 million cap hit, which means he’ll be up for a significant raise whenever he signs his next deal.

The Canadiens have a ton of holes on their roster and Pacioretty is one of the few chips they have that will command a significant return. So just because he wasn’t traded now, it doesn’t mean he won’t be moved this summer.

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

Max Pacioretty has never been this low

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Max Pacioretty has been through the rigamarole of an NHL season before.

But as the Montreal Canadiens captain admitted on Monday, it’s never been this bad.

“I’ve gone through ups and downs, but never this low,” Pacioretty told the Montreal Gazette.

And it’s what came before that statement, as doom and gloomy as it sounds, it paints the best picture of what is going on in Montreal and what Pacioretty can likely expect over the coming weeks or months.

“If it happens, it happens,” Pacioretty said, responding to the trade rumors that have engulfed him since a report on Saturday from Sportsnet said the Canadiens were shopping their captain. “I’m very proud of the past success I’ve had in Montreal. I’ve played here for 10 years and I’ve never gone through something like this.”

‘This,’ as Pacioretty puts it, is a Canadiens team that getting by on life support. ‘This’ is Pacioretty going for a 12-game dump in the goal department in December.

‘This’ is a team eight points adrift of the playoff line, one underperforming and perhaps lacking the right pieces to get its talent moving.

As Sportsnet’s Eric Engels pointed out on New Years Day, it might be the lack of playmaking talent around Pacioretty that has him heading toward his worst season in a long time.

Pacioretty has hit the 30-goal mark in five of his past six seasons (with a 15 goal season coming during the 2012-13 lockout campaign).

This year? Pacioretty will be lucky to hit 20 the way things currently stand.

“Playmakers like Andrei Markov, Alexander Radulov and David Desharnais allowed Pacioretty to focus almost uniquely on getting to the dead spaces of the offensive zone and uncorking the shot that’s given him a fair portion of his 217 goals in this league,” Engels wrote. “But they’re all plying their trades with different teams now and Bergevin hasn’t done nearly enough to replace them.”

Indeed, Bergevin hasn’t done much.

The acquisition of Jonathan Drouin hasn’t paid off in the way the Habs would have liked up to this point, and Montreal is still trying to make Alex Galchenyuk work. But where are the replacements for guys like Radulov and Markov?

Trading Pacioretty won’t solely fix the Canadiens, but it at least could be a step in that direction with the assets any deal would likely bring to la belle province.

The 29th captain in Habs history seemingly resigned to the fact that he’ll be on the move in the future and a team with the right talent to support his goal-scoring prowess would likely excite the 29-year-old.

Pacioretty has a desirable contract given his past production. With a year remaining on the deal that pays him $4.5 million annually, he could be a bargain for a team looking to make a run at a Stanley Cup this season.

And without any movement clauses in his contract, the Canadiens can’t do a lot of window shopping before heading to the cashier.

It could be a win-win for both parties.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Crosby, Toews, Weber, Price lead pack in NHL 16’s ratings

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After unveiling the top 10 goaltenders for the upcoming video game NHL 16, EA Sports has done the same for every other position.

As was the case last season, Sidney Crosby has the highest overall rating at 96, but there are some alterations after that. In 2015, Steven Stamkos ranked second overall with a 93 rating and he kept that rating for 2015-16, but he’s been leapfrogged by Jonathan Toews (94), Shea Weber (94), and Carey Price (94).

Pavel Datsyuk (93) and John Tavares (92) round out the top-five among centers. Both Detroit and Pittsburgh have two players in the top-10 with Henrik Zetterberg (92) and Evgeni Malkin (92) securing eighth and sixth place respectively.

As previously established, Weber leads the pack among defensemen and is followed by Duncan Keith (93), Drew Doughty (93), Ryan Suter (93), and Erik Karlsson (91). Nashville is the only team with two defensemen in the top-10 as Roman Josi (90) ranks ninth.

When it comes to right wingers, Corey Perry (92) got the top position, although he’s closely followed by Patrick Kane (92). Vladimir Tarasenko (91), Jakub Voracek (90), and Marian Hossa (90) make up the remainder of the top-five. Phil Kessel, who was traded from Toronto to Pittsburgh over the summer, saw his rating slip from 90 in 2014-15 to 89 following a rough campaign with the Maple Leafs.

When it comes to left wingers, it won’t surprise many to learn that Alex Ovechkin secured the top rating at 93. He’s followed by Jamie Benn (92), Taylor Hall (90), Zach Parise (90), and Max Pacioretty (89). The Dallas Stars’ acquisition of Patrick Sharp means that they now have two players in the top-10 as Sharp took the final place on that list with his 89 rating.

NHL 16 will be out on Sept. 15 in North America and Sept. 17 in Europe. If you want to see each position’s top-10 list, you can view them here.

Montreal Canadiens ’15-16 Outlook

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The Montreal Canadiens feature two of the things you look for in a championship contender: an elite goalie (Carey Price) and an outstanding, versatile defenseman (P.K. Subban).

Management seems pretty even-keeled about the team’s flaws, especially on offense. Perhaps a division title (not to mention league-wide trends of lower scoring) can breed patience/complacency.*

To most people, P.K. Subban (26 years old) and Carey Price (28) still seem enviably fresh-faced, yet it’s important to remember that windows of greatness can close with cruel quickness in sports.

One can reasonably expect goalies to age a bit more gracefully, yet Price would need to stand on his head to top the award-hogging season he generated in 2014-15. Subban may still have some upside even considering his current level of brilliance, but for how long will either one remain elite?

Look, it’s true that the Canadiens boast a ton of players who are in or around their primes. Max Pacioretty is just 26. Alex Galchenyuk could rocket up the charts, as he’s only 21, while Brendan Gallagher could very well pester for more than a decade considering the fact that he’s merely 23. Heck, Alexander Semin isn’t even that old at 31.

Even so, there’s a cut-off point where a slow-and-steady approach risks throwing away the best years of two of the most talented players on the planet.

If the coming 2015-16 season isn’t a pivotal one for GM Marc Bergevin to decide if he has the right supporting cast around Subban and Price – coach included – then it sure should be.

* – Feel free to use whichever word you think applies to Habs’ management.