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The Toronto Maple Leafs should trade for Max Pacioretty

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The Montreal Canadiens captain is on the trade block. Would they move him to Toronto?

Detroit Red Wings v Montreal Canadiens
Look how happy he is thinking about playing for a contending team
Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

On Saturday night, Nick Kypreos and Elliotte Friedman discussed the possibility of the Montreal Candiens trading their captain Max Pacioretty.

As I heard this I perked up. Max Pacioretty? The guy with the $4.5 million cap hit? Why? They want a scoring winger in return? He’s had four straight 60 point seasons! He’s on pace for over 40 points this year! This means two things. One, the Canadiens are imploding and it’s spectacular to watch, and two, we need to find a way to get him to Toronto.

Cap Hit

According to CapFriendly Max Pacioretty currently has a season long cap hit of $4,500,000 and for the rest of this year he has $2,730,968 as a cap hit.

The Maple Leafs have $0 available on the cap right now, but if they use LTIR they will have an extra $3,300,001 available to them, which is, oh hey, enough to fit Max Pacioretty! The numbers work!

The Player

Pacioretty was drafted by the Canadiens 22nd overall in the 2007 entry draft, and joined the team after one season at the University of Michigan. His next three seasons would see him split time between the AHL Hamilton Bulldogs and the Canadiens, before making the NHL full time in the 11-12 season. In 82-game NHL seasons he has never scored less than 60 points or fewer than 30 goals. In the 2013 short season, he scored 39 points in 44 games, or roughly 70 points in a full season.

This year he is only on pace for 42 points, a career low, but he is playing with the likes of Charles Hudon, Andrew Shaw, and Phillip Danault. Hardly world-class linemates. If he were to say, share a line with Nazem Kadri and Patrick Marleau, I’m sure his point totals would pass at least 50 points, a good number for someone at his cap hit.

Pacioretty is a valuable penalty killer, a strong skater, and he has a great shot. As one of the sole offensive providers in Montreal, he has a lot on his plate, but in Toronto, he would be a quality depth addition to play for a team that, on paper anyway, should score for days.

The Leafs ELC window

Much has been said about the Maple Leafs window for winning while Auston Matthews, Mitchell Marner, and William Nylander are playing on their entry level contracts. This is the final year for all three to be playing at their cheapest, and adding Pacioretty to the forward depth only improves these chances. When Nylander signs a big extension this summer, Pacioretty will still be around one more year until Matthews and Marner have their new deals, and then he’ll be off the cap.

What about JVR?

The Leafs have a JVR already, at JVR money, so why would they need another one? Well, he’s off the books after this season and unless we want to tie up cap room before knowing how the NyMarThews situation works out, he’ll be off to a new home this summer.

Adding Pacioretty could also give the Leafs the room to trade JVR at the deadline. His cap hit would be around $1.5m and if they retain 50% who knows what a contender will pay for a $750,000 JVR at the deadline.

Max must not go south

The other team who would benefit greatly from Max joining their team as depth, and not a star? The Tampa Bay Lightning.

This must not happen, as the Lightning are a scary enough team to play against right now, but adding a player like Pacioretty to play with Kucherov, Stamkos, and the rest? I do not want this to happen at all.

The optics

This is probably the biggest obstacle to getting Pacioretty. The Montreal Canadiens trade their captain to the Toronto Maple Leafs, just as the Maple Leafs are on the rise, and he could be the piece that helps make the team cup winners.

It’s not as if the Habs are afraid of dealing with Toronto and vice-versa. In the past they almost traded Josh Gorges to the Leafs for Cody Franson, until Gorges nixed the deal.

The Maple Leafs had a deal to send captain Mats Sundin to Montreal in exchange for a package that included Chris Higgins, a first, second, and third round pick.

However, this is a deal going the other way, and helping Toronto succeed in a year the Canadiens miss the playoffs would have fans egging the Bell Centre as a best case scenario.

The Cost

In the above clip, it’s said that Bergevin wants a younger goal scorer. Picks and prospects were also mentioned but I’m not sure which direction those would go in, and knowing Montreal I bet they give someone their non-lottery protected first round pick to take Patches away.

This is where everything usually goes all HFboards but I’m going to try and be reasonable here. Patches has a season and a half left, so he’s more than a rental.

This would be my package to the Canadiens, cost after this season in brackets:

Josh Leivo (1yr, $925,000), Connor Carrick (RFA), Travis Dermott (2yr/$863,333), Frédérik Gauthier (RFA), one of Jeremy Bracco (2yr/$842,500) or Adam Brooks (2yr/$759,167), 2x 2018 2nd round picks (Toronto & San Jose - this gives them four 2nd round picks next draft). This gives their prospect cupboard two centres and a defender, an NHL defender, an NHLish winger, as well as two picks to trade or keep. Also flexible to one 2018 2nd and a 2019 2nd.

I’m iffy on trading away the Maple Leafs first round pick this year, but it’s looking to be bottom 16 so if that needs to be part of the deal, I’d swap the two 2018 2nds for a 2018 first and 2019 third.

The Canadiens need a centre, but the only NHL centres the Leafs have that I’d trade are UFA’s this summer: Tyler Bozak and Dominic Moore. If they want either in the deal, sure, take them.

Should the Leafs do it?

Yes. There’s very little downside to this trade right now, maybe some five or six years in the future when one of the players sent to Montreal are a quality NHLer, but that’s the game the Leafs have to play.

This would be a home run deal for the Leafs, and while it doesn’t solve any issues they have - defensive depth, centre depth - it gives them a more reliable winger, and in my deal, gives Josh Leivo a fresh start which is important to some people and also cuts down on the ‘BUT LEIVO’ tweets that would happen if the Leafs got a winger.

This is me thinking that Montreal would take picks and prospects for Max, and not demand an NHL ready player who could be a 25 year old Pacioretty, because the Leafs don’t have one of those to spare.

Leave your crazy nonsense trade package in the comments.

Poll

Should the Maple Leafs trade for Max Pacioretty?

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  • 44%
    Yes
    (1265 votes)
  • 55%
    No
    (1591 votes)
2856 votes total Vote Now