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.

Islanders agree to terms with Mathew Barzal on 8-year extension

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Mathew Barzal has agreed to terms with the New York Islanders on an eight-year extension, a move that keeps the franchise’s top forward under contract for the balance of his prime.

The deal is worth $73.2 million with an annual salary cap hit of $9.15 million, according to a person with knowledge of the contract. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the team did not announce terms.

Barzal has led the team in scoring, or been tied for the lead, every season since he became a full-time NHL player in 2017-18. He has 349 points in 411 regular-season and playoff games for the defensively stingy Islanders, who qualified for the postseason three consecutive times before an injury- and virus-altered last year.

“We feel recharged,” Barzal said recently. “We feel like everybody had good summers and worked hard, and we got that excitement back.”

Barzal, now 25, is coming off putting up 59 points in 75 games. The offensive star will now be asked to round out his game.

“I’m a fan because Mat has the ability to raise his game and to be a special player,” general manager Lou Lamoriello told reporters at the team’s practice facility on Long Island. “And now, with this contract and our faith in him, (it) puts that responsibility on him. We’re trusting that. It’s up to him to respond to that.”

Senators goaltender Cam Talbot out 5-7 weeks with injury

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OTTAWA, Ontario — Ottawa Senators goaltender Cam Talbot is expected to be out five to seven weeks with what the team called an upper-body injury.

The Senators initially called Talbot day to day with what they hoped was a minor injury. Instead he’s now expected to miss at least the first month of the NHL season.

Ottawa claimed goalie Magnus Hellberg off waivers from the Seattle Kraken upon announcing Talbot’s expected absence. Hellberg, who played for Sweden at the Beijing Olympics could split time with countryman Anton Forsberg while Talbot is out.

The Senators acquired Talbot from Minnesota during the offseason to make him their starter after the Wild opted against bringing him back along with Marc-Andre Fleury. Talbot, 35, had a 2.76 goals-against average and .911 save percentage this season.

Losing Talbot is a blow to the Senators, who also acquired winger Alex DeBrincat from Chicago and signed longtime Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux as part of a move toward contending and ending their playoff drought.

Blackhawks’ Boris Katchouk sidelined by ankle sprain

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CHICAGO — Blackhawks forward Boris Katchouk will be sidelined for four to six weeks with a left ankle sprain, the team announced.

The 24-year-old Katchouk played almost 12 minutes during a 3-0 preseason loss to Detroit on Saturday night. He was acquired in a multiplayer trade with Tampa Bay in March.

The Blackhawks open the season on Oct. 12 at Colorado.

The team also said forward Jujhar Khaira is day to day with a right ankle injury.

Ducks’ Urho Vaakanainen crashes into boards, leaves on stretcher

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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Ducks defenseman Urho Vaakanainen was taken off the Honda Center ice on a stretcher after he crashed into the end boards in the first period of Anaheim’s preseason game against the San Jose Sharks.

The Finnish defenseman was conscious and alert with full movement in his extremities at UCI Medical Center, the Ducks said.

The frightening incident occurred midway through the opening period when Vaakanainen smashed into the boards at a dangerous speed behind the Sharks’ net. Vaakanainen appeared to be concentrating on the pass he had just made to Derek Grant, who scored the Ducks’ opening goal on the assist.

Vaakanainen’s teammates came onto the ice and gathered around him as he was taken away on the stretcher.

The Ducks acquired the 23-year-old Vaakanainen from Boston last March in the deal that sent longtime Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm to the Bruins. After recording two assists in 14 games for the Ducks last season, Vaakanainen is attempting to win a top-six role on Anaheim’s defense this fall.