Can’t get enough NHL rumors? Lyle Richardson’s Rumor Roundup column serves as a one-stop guide to the latest rumblings around the league.
A Pacioretty Trade Could Be Coming Soon
Uncertainty over left wing Max Pacioretty’s future with the Montreal Canadiens percolated throughout this summer. An unrestricted free agent next July, there’s no indication the Habs will offer their 29-year-old captain a new contract. There’s also talk he could be traded before training camp opens next week.
During the NHL Draft in June, a deal that would’ve sent Pacioretty to the Los Angeles Kings fell through over lack of agreement on a contract extension. Sportsnet’s Eric Engels claims the offer was for $36 million over six years.
The Montreal Gazette’s Pat Hickey believes money and term could be the holdup in contract talks. The Pacioretty camp could seek a seven- or eight-year deal worth between $7 – $8 million per season, if not a little more considering his current annual average value ($4.5 million) is a bargain for a player of his skills.
Following his charity golf tournament last week, Pacioretty insisted he wanted to remain in Montreal. Canadiens owner Geoff Molson and general manager Marc Bergevin both attended the tournament, but declined comment on the matter.
The situation soon took a turn toward the bizarre. Radio Canada Sports’ Martin Leclerc cited three sources claiming Pacioretty not only repeatedly requested a trade last season, but asked to be dealt back in 2013-14, as well.
That prompted a swift rebuttal from Pacioretty’s agent Allan Walsh, taking to to Twitter claiming Leclerc’s sources were coming from within the Canadiens. He maintained his client is ready to sign an extension.
Obvious these “sources” are coming from the club. Max will always take the high road and repeats again, he is ready to sign an extension with Montreal TODAY. It was Montreal that traded Max to LA at the draft and it was a DONE DEAL subject to Max signing an extension with LA. https://t.co/KsLbJ6prJr
— Allan Walsh (@walsha) August 30, 2018
Yvon Pedneault of Le Journal de Montreal also weighed in, saying sources told him a Pacioretty trade could come very soon, perhaps in a matter of days. He supported Leclerc’s report that Pacioretty spoke to Molson last season about a trade after Bergevin told the winger he was going to be dealt.
Regardless of Pacioretty’s intentions, these recent stories suggest his days with the Canadiens are numbered. It no longer appears a question of if he’ll get dealt, but when and where.
The Canadiens could attempt to move Pacioretty before the season opens in October so as not to have his trade status become an unnecessary distraction. It might take time, however, to find a suitable trade partner and a decent return (preferably one containing a scoring center) as teams spend the next several weeks evaluating their rosters.
Since the middle of last season, rumors linked Pacioretty to the Kings, St. Louis Blues, Florida Panthers and San Jose Sharks. The Kings, however, signed free-agent winger Ilya Kovalchuk this summer while the Blues added Ryan O’Reilly, David Perron, Tyler Bozak and Patrick Maroon.
MORE: Canadiens offseason report card — Habs fail to address scoring woes
Talk of shipping Pacioretty to the Panthers was based in part on his owning a house in Boca Raton, but he recently put it up for sale. Having acquired Mike Hoffman from the Ottawa Senators in June, the Panthers appear set at left wing for the coming season.
Sharks GM Doug Wilson attempted to sign Kovalchuk and John Tavares via free agency and also kicked tires on Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson. His acquisition and subsequent re-signing of Evander Kane, however, eliminates his need for a first-line left winger.
Pacioretty lacks no-trade protection and carries an affordable $4.5 million salary-cap hit this season. That gives Bergevin plenty of other potential destinations. The Anaheim Ducks could use a little more scoring punch at left wing. So could the Carolina Hurricanes, New York Rangers and Vegas Golden Knights. Whether any of those clubs come calling soon remains to be seen.
MORE: Erik Karlsson, Artemi Panarin trade outlooks for 2018-19
Seguin’s Stalled Contract Talks
Like Max Pacioretty, Dallas Stars center Tyler Seguin is also a pending UFA next July. Unlike Pacioretty, it is believed Seguin and Stars GM Jim Nill remain keen to work out a contract extension.
Lately, however, progress toward a new deal stalled. Seguin last week expressed his disappointment that a deal wasn’t in place yet. Nill previously said he hoped an agreement would be reached by the start of the season, adding that wasn’t a hard deadline. The Athletic’s Sean Shapiro reported the Stars GM said dialogue continued between the two sides with the discussions based upon what the market could be for Seguin next summer.
MORE: When does the 2018-19 NHL season start? Opening games, schedule for all 31 teams
Shapiro also noted the Stars preference not to pay any player more than the $9.5-million cap hit of captain Jamie Benn. While it’s uncertain if they still maintain that position, that would make it more difficult to reach an agreement with Seguin.
Plenty of time remains to get a deal done. Nevertheless, the lack of progress prompted Ken Campbell of The Hockey News to suggest Seguin could become next summer’s version of John Tavares if he hits the open market.
There’s no indication the Stars intend to move Seguin or that they won’t get a new contract hammered out. Still, the longer he goes without a new contract the more prominently he’ll figure in this season’s rumor mill.