December has not been kind to Max Pacioretty.
The Montreal Canadiens captain hasn’t scored since Nov. 30 and has just four assists to his name this month as the team continues to look for answers on offence.
Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos believes Pacioretty’s days in bleu, blanc et rouge could be numbered.
“We know that Marc Bergevin, general manager of Montreal, is actively shopping Max Pacioretty,” Kypreos said during Saturday’s Headlines segment on Hockey Night in Canada. “While an eventual trade may include draft picks and prospects, it’s been clear to other teams that Bergevin’s top priority is moving him for a top goal-scorer back — preferably a younger one than the 29-year-old Max Pacioretty.”
If you’re looking for a timeline, there might not be one. Kypreos pointed to Colorado Avalanche GM Joe Sakic, who waited months (and months, and months) before finally getting what he deemed a reasonable return for Matt Duchene as part of a three-way deal with Nashville and Ottawa.
“We do know how long Joe Sakic waited to move his top scorer in Matt Duchene. There is a sense that Marc Bergevin will not settle on this, and if he doesn’t get what he wants by the trade deadline (Feb. 26), he might be willing to wait for the NHL draft in Dallas [in] late June,” Kypreos said.
Pacioretty, consistently a 30-goal scorer, has just eight markers through 39 games this year. The Canadiens’ scoring woes are clearly weighing heavily on all involved, but especially on the captain — and especially in a hockey-crazed market that demands answers.
Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman shared some of his insight into how that pressure might be affecting Pacioretty’s performance.
“I just was talking to a couple of general managers about this — ‘what do you see in Pacioretty?’ and things like that — and one of them specifically pointed to a lot of the quotes that Pacioretty has had lately and the way he sees it is, he sees a guy who’s struggling as a player,” Friedman explained. “He’s got one goal in 20 games, the team is struggling, obviously, they’re out of a playoff spot. And he sees it as he’s the captain of the Canadiens, he feels he is responsible to come up with some sort of answer for the media, and he is just grasping at straws to try to provide reasons for why he and the team aren’t going very well.
“And [the source] thinks that one of the reasons, as Nick said, the price is so high is that they know if [Pacioretty] goes somewhere where he doesn’t have to deal with this everyday and he can just worry about playing hockey, he might just take off,” said Friedman. “And that’s the way he sees it: Pacioretty is simply trying to find answers where there may not be any.”