December 31, 2017 | 3:30pm ET
TheFourthPeriod.com

WHERE MIGHT PACIORETTY END UP?

 
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Max Pacioretty, left wing

 

On Saturday night, the hockey world shook a bit when it had been reported during Hockey Night in Canada that the Montreal Canadiens were actively shopping captain Max Pacioretty.

During HNIC’s “Headlines” segment last night, Nick Kypreos reported Habs GM Marc Bergevin was looking to move Pacioretty, but cautioned a deal may not come this season.

The Canadiens have struggled this season and remain out of the playoff picture, primarily due to their lackluster offensive attack. 

“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,” Kypreos said during the broadcast.

Moving Pacioretty for a goal-scorer seems contradictory, considering he’s been one of the team’s most electric scorers in the franchise’s last 20 seasons, having cracked the 30-goal mark five times – the only other current member of the Habs to have hit 30 goals is Alex Galchenyuk in 2015-16.

However, with one-year left on his contract beyond this season, the Canadiens may try to maximize a return for Pacioretty, who comes with a tremendously team-friendly $4.5 million salary cap hit.

Kypreos mentioned that moving Pacioretty may not occur during the season, and if the Canadiens actually pull the trigger on a trade, it could happen around the NHL Draft in late-June.

Any team that acquires Pacioretty mid-season is likely contending for the Stanley Cup this season, one rival team executive told TFP on Sunday, and would be willing to pay a premium for the sniper.

The St. Louis Blues, Los Angeles Kings, Anaheim Ducks, San Jose Sharks, Columbus Blue Jackets, Boston Bruins, Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers, New York Islanders, and New York Rangers are all looking to add a top-six forward this season, and with limited options available, Pacioretty could command a significant price.

The Blues, Bruins, Islanders, Flames and Rangers are tight up against the salary cap and would most certainly need to move a roster player in any deal for a top-six forward.

In addition to a young, proven goal-scorer, the Habs will be looking for a top prospect and a high draft pick in return.

The Kings, Oilers, Sharks, Ducks and Blue Jackets have more flexibility under the salary cap and could get creative, if they feel they have a legitimate shot at the Cup this season – and their insurance policy is knowing they’d have Pacioretty locked up for another season.

While Pacioretty may be in play, a trade is not yet imminent, and he isn’t the only member of the Canadiens on the block.

Forwards Andrew Shaw, Michael McCarron (currently back in the AHL) and Tomas Plekanec are believed to be available.

Shaw, 26, has four-years left on his contract, which comes with a $3.9 million salary cap hit.

Plekanec, 35, is in the final-year of his contract and could be moved out to a contender in need of a two-way, third-line center, though the Habs would likely need to eat some of his $6 million cap hit. 

He's spent his entire career with the Canadiens and sits 40 regular-season games shy of 1,000 on his career, and that feat might keep him in a Habs uniform for the rest of the season – the Habs did, after all, declined to re-sign Andrei Markov 10 NHL games away from 1,000 on his career.