Hide Bergevin’s phone: Trade rumors swirl around Canadiens’ Pacioretty

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Even if you lean toward “traditional thinking” rather than “fancy stats,” you’d have to agree that most of the trades Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin’s made have been a little … lacking.

At best, Jonathan Drouin for Mikhail Sergachev might even out over time. The team seems to get older in every move (somehow, even with a 22-year-old in Drouin), with the Shea WeberP.K. Subban swap sticking out like a sore thumb. The selling point of Bergevin’s general worldview has been to win-now, during Carey Price‘s prime, yet things have been shaky in Montreal.

With a three-game losing streak in mind and the Canadiens firmly located outside of the playoffs as of this writing, things might be getting tense, and it’s possible that Bergevin’s seat could be heating up. Still, Alex Galchenyuk hasn’t been panic-moved, and reckless moves haven’t happened for months now. Progress, right?

Well (gulp) about that …

Nick Kypreos mentioned on a Saturday Hockey Night in Canada segment that the Canadiens might be shopping Max Pacioretty. That already sounds pretty dubious, yet it gets stranger that Kypreos reports that the Canadiens are looking for a top-scorer, particularly a young one.

The Sporting News’ Evan Sporer transcribed Kypreos’ comments (video of the segment will be linked or embedded if it becomes available).

“While an eventual trade may include draft picks and prospects, it’s been clear that Bergevin’s top priority is moving him for a top goal-scorer back, preferably a younger one.”

To recap, Pacioretty is 29. He’s scored 30+ goals five times in his career already, including 35 last season, when his scoring was slowed for at least one month thanks to a fractured foot. The American winger is struggling in 2017-18 with eight goals and 20 points in 38 games, yet he’s only connected on a deeply unlucky 5.6 percent of his shots on goal.

Recklessly trading a sniper suffering from bad puck luck blows up in a GM’s face in many instances. You merely need to look to Bergevin’s spiritual cousin in Edmonton for an immediate example: Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli overreacted to a tough season for Jordan Eberle, trading him for quarters on the dollar in Ryan Strome. That move looks like a disaster, and we’re only a few months removed from it.

Bergevin’s reported asking price of a young, top-scorer is (justifiably) being ridiculed by Hockey Twitter.

Harsh, but fair.

To get a better idea of how valuable Pacioretty is, let’s provide some context. While he enjoyed some NHL work before then, 2011-12 season was his true breakthrough, and the first time he played a full season in 79 games. Since then, Pacioretty’s scored 197 goals, the sixth-highest total in the NHL during that span.

That’s more goals than Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, Sidney Crosby, Corey Perry, and Brad Marchand during that span. The only players who really blow Pacioretty away are Alex Ovechkin and Steven Stamkos (the latter of whom managed a ton of goals even with serious injury woes in mind).

It’s difficult to imagine even the most respected GMs getting a great deal for Pacioretty right now.

If you’re a Canadiens fan, would you trust Bergevin to procure reasonable value for Pacioretty, whose relative struggles put his value about as low as it can get? Take a moment and daydream about the league’s smartest GMs smelling blood here: Pacioretty owns one of the NHL’s great bargain contracts, as his $4.5 million cap hit (again, a huge steal) doesn’t expire until after 2018-19.

Just about any contender should be knocking Bergevin’s door down to try to hoodwink him into another franchise-damaging deal.

Now, it’s crucial to realize that this is a report, and it doesn’t indicate that a deal is imminent. This could be the Canadiens leaking out an idea merely to dip their toes in the water.

If you’re a Montreal fan, you have to be like a Penguins fan with the Kris Letang rumors: merely hope that this either isn’t true, or that a deal isn’t out there, anyway.

Overall, it’s cruel to Canadiens fans, especially ones who want their team to take an even-keeled approach.

If something happens, it’s difficult to imagine it working out well for Montreal, at least if a move follows Bergevin’s troubling recent history.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.