It appears the chances of Max Pacioretty sticking around in Montreal for the long term have dropped from slim to none.
According to Marc Antoine Godin of The Athletic, the Canadiens will not be offering the 29-year-old winger a contract extension. Pacioretty, who is currently considered one of the best bargains in the NHL with a $4.5-million AAV, is set to become an unrestricted agent next summer.
The Athletic noted that Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin has told the former first-round pick that “there will be no contract negotiation and that his intention is to trade Pacioretty as soon as possible.” Tuesday’s news puts a large, rusty nail in the coffin of the notion that Pacioretty could still remain in a Canadiens uniform for the foreseeable future, despite the fact the two sides reportedly began preliminary talks on a new deal last month.
It also, in all likelihood, ends the possibility of a sign-and-trade type deal, meaning the return the Canadiens can hope to yield in return for Pacioretty will be considerably smaller without him being locked up long term.
The sweepstakes will now surely accelerate as teams will be hoping to get a full season out of Pacioretty before free agency in order to fully take advantage of his minuscule $4.5M cap for 2017-18, and the sooner the Habs can flip their captain, the greater the return will be.
Maximizing return for this asset is absolutely critical for Bergevin, who currently has a whole plethora of organizational issues to sort out as the team trudges through the in-between stages of a rebuild and trying to be a playoff team. Trade rumours have swarmed Pacioretty dating back to Christmas time and heated up mightily as the trade deadline approached — even moreso as the draft came and went.
Unfortunately for Bergevin and Co., not only has the organization lost a fair chunk of its leverage with potential trading partners across the league, they aren’t exactly selling high right now, either.
Plagued by injury and an inability to find a consistent offensive flow, Pacioretty had his worst NHL campaign in 2017-18, posting career-lows in points and goals — failing to post at least 20 tallies for the first time. As a whole, however, Pacioretty remains one of the premier wingers in the league.
He put up an average of 35 goals and 65 points over the four seasons prior to last.