Considering Marc Bergevin’s recent history as … whatever the opposite of a trade wizard is, many might view a lack of a Max Pacioretty trade as a good thing for the Montreal Canadiens. Then again, maybe not.
The Habs have looked foolish plenty of times before in handling trade rumors and the fallout from trades, whether it was P.K. Subban roasting them or on-ice results roasting them over and over again.
Pacioretty’s golf tournament recently took place, and even that created more than a few headaches. Bask in this awkwardness:
Things haven’t really gotten better from there. For one thing, Pacioretty acknowledged that there haven’t been negotiations regarding a contract extension, while the Montreal Gazette recently noted that drama surrounding an alleged failed trade between the Habs and Los Angeles Kings during draft weekend boiled over once again.
What a mess, right? Well, the hits keep coming.
Pacioretty’s agent Allan Walsh – who replaced Pat Brisson following that failed Kings trade, by the way – took to Twitter to rip on the Canadiens for their latest attempt at damage control.
First, Walsh made it clear that Pacioretty wants to stay in Montreal, but hasn’t received an offer:
Next, he bashed the Canadiens for supposedly leaking details to, essentially, make Pacioretty look like the bad guy.
Ultimately, the Pacioretty situation is a difficult one, yet this is a scenario that Montreal’s only made worse thanks to their attempts to paint themselves as the good guys.
It brings us to a burning – and difficult – question: what should the Canadiens do with Pacioretty?
There are some arguments that could be made for keeping the American winger to at least begin the 2018-19 season. For one thing, Pacioretty struggled with poor luck on a bad team last season, two things that might improve this time around. A rising Pacioretty could bump up his trade value, not to mention his own earning potential. Maybe there’d be a silver lining to him extending his stay in Montreal?
(The Hockey News’ Matt Larkin wrote in favor of the Canadiens keeping him around until the trade deadline, arguing that a new set of suitors could come knocking.)
Let’s not kid ourselves. Bergevin would be outrageous not to worry about his job security, and “losing” a Pacioretty trade could be the last straw for Montreal owner Geoff Molson, who’s already shown arguably excessive restraint as Bergevin blunders key move after key move.
Comments like Walsh’s tweets can only cause more indigestion, and if it’s true that the Canadiens have no interest in extending Pacioretty, might it be better just to move on?
Some recent examples show the difficult tug-o-war that might be going on in Bergevin’s brain.
The Matt Duchene trade: This might be a beacon of hope for Bergevin.
Remember how grim things were for Duchene and the Avalanche last training camp? Perhaps this meme will jog your memory.
Well, Avalanche GM Joe Sakic looks a lot wiser today than he did heading into last year’s training camp.
Sakic waded through all the snark and second-guessing, ultimately orchestrating a brilliant three-team trade to land maximum value for Duchene. Public perception regarding Sakic’s work has essentially flipped on its head thanks to Colorado’s remarkable playoff run and that truly fantastic, against-all-odds trade win.
Maybe Bergevin could work similar magic?
The Mike Hoffman – Erik Karlsson nightmare: Of course, it’s tough to put Bergevin in a class of clever GMs when he’s made so many unforced errors in Montreal, and there’s a cautionary tale that would argue that things could get even worse if the waiting game continues.
Plenty of people expected the Ottawa Senators to move Hoffman and/or Karlsson during the trade deadline. GM Pierre Dorion instead balked, hoping to extract maximum value. Oops.
Maybe the offers were mediocre, but when the off-ice drama surfaced between Hoffman and Karlsson, Ottawa forced themselves into a terrible deal for Hoffman.
Time will tell regarding the Karlsson takeaway, yet things aren’t exactly looking optimistic in Ottawa.
It says a lot about the poor work of Dorion and Bergevin that the Senators and Canadiens fall at the bottom of this fan confidence survey by The Athletic’s Dom Luszczyszyn (sub required). It’s reasonable to fear that the putrid parallels might continue if the Pacioretty nightmare lingers.
There’s a Goldilocks element to getting a Pacioretty trade right, or at least as right as the circumstances allow.
Bergevin risks the too-hot approach of trading him immediately, only to miss out on optimum value. There’s also the too-cold scenario, where Montreal waits until Pacioretty’s suitors only provide bargain-basement offers. This only escalates if people believe that Bergevin’s situation is even more desperate. (Say, if Montreal suffers another lousy season, and things don’t go so well for Patches.)
Can Bergevin find a trade that is “just right?”
It won’t be easy, but it also could happen. Still, things sure are getting sour, and “winning” the PR battle might not be so simple.
James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.