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 email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck