End of an era? Canadiens, Pacioretty still not talking extension

The Montreal Canadiens should trade Max Pacioretty, but maybe not so soon. (Photo by David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The Montreal Canadiens have not had a change of heart on their stance regarding Max Pacioretty’s contract situation, and it remains increasingly likely that the Habs forward will be on the move.

Tuesday at Pacioretty’s charity golf tournament, the star winger told Renaud Lavoie of TVA Sports along with other reporters that there has been no movement on long-term negotiations with the team. 

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Although it had already been reported by Marc Antoine Godin of The Athletic that general manager Marc Bergevin has no intentions of re-signing the 29-year-old, news that the situation hasn’t changed this close to the season all but cements the fact that 2018-19 will likely be the forward’s last with the Canadiens.

Bergevin has already shown a desire to trade the star, and he nearly did. At the NHL Draft, the Habs were in discussions about a three-way trade with the New York Islanders and Buffalo Sabres, one that would send Ryan O’Reilly to the Canadiens. Those talks, obviously, never materialized.

The Canadiens GM reportedly wants to trade Pacioretty as soon as possible, but flipping the former first-round pick does not seem like a wise decision right now. It has been reported by Brendan Kelly of the Montreal Gazette that the storied hockey club is not receiving fair value for him.

It’s also obviously never smart asset management to trade a guy immediately after the worst season of his career. His 17 goals and 37 points are the lowest totals he’s posted in both categories while playing in 40 games or more, and there is ample reason to believe that he will bounce back in 2018-19 and shape up to be a much better in-season trade piece.

Not only did Pacioretty struggle to find the net with his shot last season (one of the biggest reasons for his steep decline in production), but even when he did register one, it likely wasn’t going in. The five-time 30-goal scorer finished with the 19th worst shooting percentage (8 percent) among the 152 forwards who produced 150 shots or more last season. That’s really bad, and considering that his career mark sits at 11 percent, there is a really good chance that number climbs back near that range next season.

So was 2017-18 an extremely awful year for the leader of the Canadiens? Absolutely. And should Montreal move on from the left-winger? You bet. But trading a 29-year old capable of being an elite goal scorer while still on an extremely affordable contract for less than fair value sounds like an idea destined to fail.

And the Habs have already been the victim of their fair share of those.

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