The Vegas Golden Knights revolving door of players continued to spin on Wednesday when they traded veteran forward Max Pacioretty to the Carolina Hurricanes.
And with that, the Hurricanes continued to load up their roster on the opening day of free agency.
The full deal will send Pacioretty and Dylan Coghlan to the Hurricanes in exchange for future considerations. That is it. Nothing going back to Vegas in return.
The key to this deal for Vegas — and the only key to this deal — is dumping the remaining year of Pacioretty’s contract ($7 million salary cap hit) to get under the cap. It is a familiar cycle for the Golden Knights as they keep adding big-name players in trade and free agency and then having to jettison other players to make it all work. Sometimes (in the case of Pacioretty and Marc-Andre Fleury) they have to jettison them for, quite literally, nothing.
[Related: 2022 NHL Free Agency Tracker]
When healthy Pacioretty is still an outstanding player and has scored at a point-per-game (and 40-goal pace per 82 games) the past two seasons. If Carolina had a weakness on their roster the past couple of years it has been not having enough finishers that can turn all of their possession domination into goals. They have a lot of really good players, and a team where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, but they definitely had a need for another difference-making forward.
They not only got one, they did not have to give up anything to get it.
The Hurricanes also signed Ondrej Kase to a one-year contract, while allowing Vincent Trocheck to leave in free agency to the New York Rangers. It is likely that Nino Neiderreiter is also leaving in free agency.
Those departures seem pretty insignificant when you consider the boost that Pacioretty can provide.
Carolina still has one of the best rosters in the league and managed to get a lot more lethal offensively with Pacioretty and Burns added to the mix.
As for Vegas, this is tough and it speaks to the self-inflicted salary cap headaches it constantly creates for itself by seemingly having no long-term vision beyond “sign or trade for the biggest name available.”
Coming off of a bitterly disappointing season where they missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in franchise history, this is not an encouraging start to the offseason.