Montreal Canadiens Trade Rumors: Why Montreal Must Keep Max Pacioretty

Ryan SzporerContributor IIINovember 30, 2013

Montreal Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty celebrating a goal against the Buffalo Sabres.
Montreal Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty celebrating a goal against the Buffalo Sabres.Rob Marczynski/Getty Images

For the record, Montreal Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty is not being actively shopped, but that doesn’t make his name popping up in trade rumors sound any less like a fairy tale.

Yet, according to TSN’s Bob McKenzie, the Habs are listening to offers for Pacioretty. To be clear, the Habs are apparently not actively shopping their top-line left-winger; they're just not hanging up outright on gentleman callers looking to obtain his services.

To be even clearer: Barring an outlandish return (like Alexander Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby or any other top scorer in the league), trading Pacioretty would be a huge mistake, so much so that it feels kind of ridiculous just writing about the possibility he gets dealt.

Admittedly, at this point, that’s all this is, a possibility. Nothing is set in stone, nor does Habs general manager Marc Bergevin seem to be reaching out to interested parties. But why bother even entertaining offers for a player that has led the team in scoring for the past two years?

Sure, he can stand to play more physically, put more “power” in the term “power forward” and is currently mired in a pretty disappointing start to the season. However, it speaks volumes about his overall value that, despite those facts, he is still on pace for 30 goals.

Pacioretty, just 25, will likely never develop into an upper-echelon talent that will vie for a league scoring title. If that’s all it takes to give up on a top-line player these days, though, please refer to Daniel Briere, a 36-year-old free-agent signee whom the Habs actually courted themselves and then paid top dollar for...for some reason.

Hell, look to linemate David Desharnais, whom, despite his current season-best blue-hot streak of five points in five games, should have been traded ages ago...or at least one would like to think he would have been were it not for his inflated $3.5 million-per-year contract. And that’s, in part, the point why Pacioretty is so valuable.

His six-year, $27 million deal just kicked in this season, giving him a cap hit of just $4.5 million up until he is 30 years old. Contracts that are that cost effective just don’t exist these days, at least not for 30-goal scorers.

Pacioretty doesn’t even enter into the top 50 cap hits among forwards. The 50th name on that list, Nathan Horton, was even signed to his current seven-year, $37.1 million deal with only one 30-goal season to his credit (seven years ago) and with the Columbus Blue Jackets in full knowledge of him having to undergo shoulder surgery.

Sure, Pacioretty gets hurt himself, but that’s just sad—Peter Griffin-hurting-his-knee sad. It’s a guarantee Columbus ends up feeling the sting of that contract for even longer.

New York Islanders forward John Tavares makes an average of $5.5 million per year.
New York Islanders forward John Tavares makes an average of $5.5 million per year.Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Moving up the list, you have names like that of the 37-year-old Shane Doan (same cap hit of $5.3 million), the just-extended Phil Kessel (currently $5.4 million, but will be $8 million), former Hab Mike Ribeiro ($5.5 million), the 40-year-old Daniel Alfredsson ($5.5 million) and the 37-year-old Patrik Elias ($5.5 million).

It’s practically a rogues' gallery of players who have robbed owners blind (and are bound to lose their eyesight themselves in the coming years due to old age).

Admittedly, both Jason Pominville ($5.3 million) and John Tavares ($5.5 million) make it into the bottom 10 on that list. However, Pominville, who’s on pace for a 40-goal season, is actually poised for a slight bump next year after signing a five-year, $28 million extension this October ($5.6 million).

The fact that he will end up making a higher average salary per year than Tavares—a Hart Memorial Trophy runner-up—is almost criminal in its own right, though.

So, no, Pacioretty can’t lay claim to having a better contract than everyone in the league, but Tavares is the exception and not the rule here. And that Pacioretty’s deal works out to a $1 million-lower cap hit sounds about right. Hell, it’s no wonder that he’s garnering interest around the league.

The wonder, again, is why Bergevin isn’t sarcastically asking for a bag of magic beans in exchange. That isn’t meant to compare Pacioretty to the cow in Jack and the Beanstalk (he doesn’t lactate copious amounts of milk, as far as I know). However, just like Jack made a seemingly foolish trade for his family’s sole source of income, Bergevin would be dealing away a rare commodity indeed.

A golden-egg-laying goose for a cash cow like Pacioretty? That sounds about right. Anything less and Bergevin would certainly be deserving of the giant amount of criticism sure to follow. Seeing as geese that lay golden eggs don’t exist (nor do magic beans and beanstalks), trading Pacioretty is probably one move not worth making.