The departures of James Neal and David Perron this offseason will be missed both on and off the ice for the Vegas Golden Knights. As reigning NHL General Manager of the Year George McPhee looks to replace the leadership qualities and production on the ice, he is going to want to get an established NHL player he can slot in on the wing to fill the vacant spot. Who else can fit that “Golden Misfit” mentality? Hello, Max Pacioretty.
Keeping up with the recent theme of Canadian teams wanting to trade their captains, the Montreal Canadiens informed Pacioretty there will be no contract negotiation for the captain, per The Athletic. Montreal fans will tell you how they really feel about their GM, Marc Bergevin and — to put it nicely — they think he is ruining their beloved Canadiens. It’s no surprise he is butchering this ordeal with Pacioretty, who has one year left on the 6-year deal he signed back in 2013.
There were rumblings this past December that Bergevin would explore trading Pacioretty, but nothing came to fruition. Pacioretty has changed agents and expressed many times he would love to stay in Montreal, yet Bergevin seems content on letting the five-time 30-goal scorer go. It seems as though both Ottawa (the Erik Karlsson debacle) and Montreal are in a battle of their own on how to ruin their franchise quicker. Toronto, which has been the butt of many jokes for so many years, is now tops the list as far as eastern Canadian market teams go.
Time is running out for Bergevin to make a move. They at least get something out of Pacioretty, or else it will be another John Tavares situation, where the player walks the following season for nothing. So could Pacioretty be a Golden Misfit next season? The framework is certainly there.
Here are a few reasons why:
Pacioretty has been a proven leader on and off the ice, something we know McPhee, head coach Gerard Gallant, and Knights owner Bill Foley hold to a high standard. Pacioretty was a first round pick for Montreal in 2007, breaking into the league in 2009. After a few seasons back and forth between the AHL and NHL, Pacioretty hit his stride in 2011 and became the team’s leading scorer. Four out of five seasons, he was a 30-goal scorer and named to the prestigious role of captain prior to the start of the 2015 season.
Being the captain of the Montreal Canadiens may be the hardest job in all of hockey. The media there are equivalent to the New York media to the Yankees. One minute you’re a hero, the next minute you are getting screamed at by reporters and the fans. Pacioretty has handled every step of the way with class. It doesn’t hurt that Golden Knights new arrival, Paul Stastny, played with Pacioretty in the 2014 Olympic Games for Team USA.
Pacioretty Loves Vegas
It was an abysmal season for the Canadiens so it wasn’t hard to believe, after a fifth straight loss courtesy of the Golden Knights in February, a couple of the Montreal players got tired of telling their media outlets how they need to “turn things around.” Instead, a couple of them talked about the amazing atmosphere that is T-Mobile Arena. One of those players was captain Max Pacioretty.
“It was the coolest road game I’ve ever played. It was unbelievable. It was top notch. Couldn’t ask for better music, better atmosphere, better fans.”- Max Pacioretty, MTL Captain
— Jason R. Pothier (@JRPothier) February 18, 2018
That is not something you hear from a team’s captain about another team’s venue, even if it’s in the middle of the regular season. This is a man who has spent his entire playing career inside one of the rowdiest places to play in the world in Montreal, yet was blown away by the atmosphere at T-Mobile.
It is safe to say he was blown away by Vegas. Why wouldn’t he want to come play for the Knights? They just made it to the Stanley Cup Final, he loves the atmosphere of T-Mobile Arena, they run open fan-friendly practices in a brand new practice facility, we have winters that never hit single digits, a head coach who just won the Jack Adams Trophy…need I say more?
Opportunity to Win
If there is one knock on the American winger, it is that Pacioretty has never lifted the Stanley Cup. He made it to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2014, but has not gotten a chance to lift Lord Stanley’s Cup. He will have a much better chance to do that in Vegas, than in Montreal. Vegas is in a win-now stage whereas Montreal is in a rebuild, which is hard to do for a city that demands winning every season. He can slot in most likely on the second or third line for the Golden Knights and play along side the likes of playmaker Stastny, (29-goals in 2017-18), Eric Haula, Alex Tuch, Tomas Tatar, or whatever combination Gallant decides to mix his lines with.
Is He A Golden Misfit?
How would Pacioretty help the Golden Knights? The Golden Knights would be getting a 6-foot-2, 206-pound winger with multiple 30-goal scoring seasons on his resume. They would be getting a U.S. Olympian who has proven himself on the international stage. They would be getting a leader in the locker room and in the community. Simply put: there is a lot to like about the veteran winger and he’ll fit in just fine with these strange goofballs, especially Marc Andre-Fleury and his man purse.
The “Golden Misfits” are more than just a quirky saying. It is a mentality the Golden Knights had last season and for good reason. They became these Golden Knights because other teams didn’t want them enough to protect them in the expansion draft and developed a chip on their shoulders that lasted the whole season. They worked harder than anyone on the ice.
Pacioretty IS a misfit. After years of loyalty, hard work and excellent performance on the ice for the Canadiens, his own GM isn’t willing to work with him to make a deal. He isn’t willing to keep their captain around. He’s going to be pretty chippy all season in a contract season so look out for him to enter to talks at the trade deadline, no matter what. The Canadiens have angered The Captain.
It has yet to be determined if significant talks have occurred between Montreal and Vegas but, while the whole world reports on Karlsson’s every move this offseason, McPhee could swoop in and buy low. After an off-year for Pacioretty and the Canadiens, McPhee has some leverage, particularly since word went public Bergevin doesn’t want to keep Pacioretty.
I can’t think of better kind of ‘misfit’ to join the realm, can you?