The Vegas Golden Knights are reportedly seeking a trade that would send $7 million forward Max Pacioretty out of Vegas and give the Golden Knights cap room with which to go after a bargain on the NHL free agent market. It’s a deal that seems to make little sense on the surface considering he is the second best forward on that team, easily the best goal scorer and got an “A” on his jersey for his leadership abilities. Still, it appears the Golden Knights are serious about making a move and as TSN’s Frank Seravalli put it, the team has “doubled down” on their efforts to ship him out.
The question now is, where will he go?
In order to acquire Pacioretty, there are two things a team would need. The first is cap space. The reason Vegas is looking to move the player is because they want to ship out as much of or all of his $7 million in salary over the next three seasons if possible. That won’t be an easy sell considering the expectation of a flat salary cap over what could be that entire time. The second is a need for a scoring top-six winger.
There are only a handful of choices:
New York Islanders
If there’s one thing the New York Islanders need, it’s goal scoring and Pacioretty is certainly a scorer. He scored 32 goals and 66 points in 72 games last season and on the power play, he’s a legitimate weapon.
The questions about the salary cap are certainly relevant considering the team is looking to re-sign RFA Mathew Barzal and it’s not worth even considering Pacioretty if his trade affects the likelihood of a Barzal deal. That said, it is possible.
If the Islanders place both Johnny Boychuk and Andrew Ladd on LTIR, then send Leo Komarov, Michael Dal Colle, and Thomas Hickey to the AHL, after signing Barzal to a three-year $7 million per season bridge deal, the numbers work.. barely.
A team with cap space and a rumored desire to add a significant piece, there was talk the Predators have been in on Mike Hoffman. It seems to be that Pacioretty would be as useful a player at just a bit higher the price tag. Perhaps the bonus in Pacioretty over Hoffman is that the unrestricted free agent is going to want either a long-term deal or a one-year pact to try and maximize his value next season. Meanwhile, Pacioretty is a three-year commitment and nothing more. Both are around the same age.
With over $12 million cap space, the Predators have enough room to make this trade and potentially grab another piece while leveraging the fact the Golden Knights seem to be in a bit of a pinch to move Pacioretty’s salary.
Columbus Blue Jackets
Another team with some cap space, the fit in Columbus isn’t quite as good as it would be in Nashville, mainly because of the contract status for Pierre-Luc Dubois. Still, that doesn’t change the fact the Blue Jackets moved a lot of salary at the start of this offseason with talk they wanted to add.
The Blue Jackets have tons of current space with over $9 million to add a player but the expectation is that a huge chunk of that space will go to Dubois. Like Barzal in New York, adding Pacioretty is not an option if it affects the prospects of getting Dubois’ extension finalized.
With more than $12 million in current cap space and a full roster, the Senators not only have the cap room to add Pacioretty, but they have the draft picks and bodies they can ship the other direction without asking the Golden Knights to take on little salary.
So too, Senators owner Eugene Melnyk just came out and said he believed the Senators could be contenders now and all they need to do was add the right veterans — which they intended to do. Perhaps they weren’t in the market for a $7 million defenseman, but Pacioretty immediately improves the Sens chances of winning and his goal scoring, experience and leadership would be tremendously helpful to a young Ottawa team.
The trick would be convincing Pacioretty to exclude the Senators from his 10-team no trade list.
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