When most of Sin City was slumbering late Sunday night, Vegas Golden Knights general manager George McPhee was making moves. This time, “The T-Mobile Magician” made the Golden Knights a better team by trading forMontreal Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty. The VGK get the multiple 30-goal scorer in exchange for Tomas Tatar, prospect Nick Suzuki, and a 2019 second round pick.
News of the deal spread Sunday night before George McPhee announced Monday afternoon Pacioretty has agreed to a contract extension. The extension is four years, with average annual salary (AAV) at $7 million. Pacioretty will keep his current contract for the 2018-2019 season.
While almost everyone in the media was fixated on the Erik Karlsson saga, McPhee wanted to not only regain some fire power in his office after losing James Neal and David Perron this summer, he needed to regain the leadership qualities those players left behind. With Pacioretty, that is exactly what he is getting.
“We are a better team today than we were yesterday,” George McPhee stated in the press conference Monday afternoon. “He can score goals. He’s a very good two way player and can play in a lot of different situations.”
Pacioretty’s stats from last season were bit of an outlier compared to his other seasons. A season full of injuries for Max did not yield great results, but historically, the 29-year-old forward has five 30-plus goal seasons. This is a chance for Pacioretty to get back to that mark, where he doesn’t have to be “the guy” like how he was in Montreal. This is what he can do for Vegas.
Pacioretty has been the Montreal captain for years now, which is one of the hardest jobs in all of hockey. The GM for Montreal, Marc Bergevin, made it known he was not going to re-sign the captain. In an already frenzy-filled hockey media, Bergevin was not a popular man for essentially running their captain out of Montreal. Fact of the matter is, Montreal is not going to be very competitive this year, so trading their captain is a move that could work out for both sides.
Pacioretty has some familiarity with one of his potential line mates in Paul Stastny, who played alongside the new Golden Knight on Team USA during the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Pacioretty raved about T-Mobile Arena last season when “Le Habs” came to Vegas, so there was a chance that Pacioretty decided he’d be happy coming to Vegas for good ever since. This might have been the worst-kept secret in the NHL after he glowed about the city’s hockey love.
“Everyone around the league that I’ve talked to that has already played here said the same thing and I just said, ‘oh yeah that’s great,’ but when you experience it for yourself, that was a treat to play and I wish we played them more than once a year,” he said back in February. “They do such a good job with the entertainment in this building. It was really a lot of fun except for the result.”
Perhaps he had already decided to make the VGK his Valentine. If he did, let’s keep that secret between us. Don’t wanna anger the Canadians.
The other aspect of this deal is what Vegas gave up in this deal. Tatar never really meshed with the team in his short stint in Vegas. He was a healthy scratch on-and-off throughout the playoffs. Nick Suzuki, one of Vegas’s first round picks from a year ago, was also dealt in the deal. As much as this stings, you have to give up talent to get talent.
The reality is it’s no sure thing Suzuki will turn out to be a regular NHL player with as much value as Pacioretty, who IS an established player and in his prime. It is a win for both teams, for now, especially as the Golden Knights make a push to return to the Stanley Cup Final for the second consecutive season.
The @GoldenKnights are now at 10-1 odds of winning the cup and -330 to make the playoffs.
Max Pacioretty trade shortens Golden Knights’ odds across board https://t.co/uvOHFmOd9i
— #FreeNate Golden Knights Fans (@VGK_Fans) September 11, 2018
Enjoy this trade, Vegas fans. Pacioretty is a leader both on and off the ice, and has had the second most even strength goals in the NHL among active players since 2011. If the Golden Knights can’t snag Karlsson, they’ve already made plenty of solid moves this offseason to keep them a contender for the foreseeable future.