Max Pacioretty and Josh Gorges: Bob Gainey's Crafty Move from Two Years Ago

Fred PoulinCorrespondent IJanuary 9, 2009

On Feb. 25, 2007, the Montreal Canadiens veteran defenseman Craig Rivet and a fifth-round selection in 2008 were sent to the San Jose Sharks for young defenseman Josh Gorges and a first-round selection in 2007 (Max Pacioretty).

Now a member of the Buffalo Sabres, Rivet helped the Sharks go deep in the playoffs the past two seasons—even though they weren't able to make it to the finals. In 91 games with the Sharks, Rivet scored six goals and 37 assists for 43 points.

He was later traded this summer along with San Jose's seventh-round selection in 2010 to the Buffalo Sabres for a second round choice in 2009 and a second-round choice in 2010.

Meanwhile, Josh Gorges has blossomed into a very reliable defenseman over his two years in Montreal.

At first, things were not quite easy for Gorges, as he was a frequent healthy scratch for most of the 2007 season.

However, last season he finally made it as a regular rearguard and played 62 games, notching nine assists beside his partner Francis Bouillon.

Gorges, 24, has seen an increase of ice time this season, being used in every situation (even on the power play), and his statistics have improved accordingly. Gorges already has one goal and seven assists for eight points in 40 games. He has a team-best plus-18, good for the 10th rank league-wide.

The key element of that trade is Pacioretty.  He finally made it to the NHL this season, thanks to numerous injuries to key Habs players.

He registered 15 goals, 24 assists, and 39 points in 37 games after a great season with the University of Michigan last year.  After Michigan, Pacioretty signed his first NHL contract this summer, a three-year entry-level pact with the Canadiens.

Recalled from Hamilton on Jan. 1, 2009, Pacioretty scored his first NHL goal on his first shot in the Habs' 4-1 loss against New Jersey. Now playing on a line with veterans Alex Kovalev and Tomas Plekanec, Max Pax has tallied two goals and one assist for three points after only four games.

Pacioretty is a good power forward with above average skills—a good skater with quick feet. He handles the puck very well, and he has a good wrist shot with quick release. His size and tenacity allow him to drive to the net consistently.

Max Pacioretty will likely be this year's Sergei Kostitsyn even when Koivu, Higgins, and Tanguay come back from their injuries.