Max Pacioretty is headed to a warmer climate as the Montreal Canadiens have traded the 29-year-old captain to the Vegas Golden Knights.
The left winger has been exchanged for forwards Tomáš Tatar, 27, prospect Nick Suzuki, 19, and a second-round pick in 2019.
The Habs announced the trade on their website just before 1 a.m. ET.
The Canadiens have acquired forwards Tomas Tatar and Nick Suzuki, and a 2nd round pick in 2019 from the Vegas Golden Knights (Columbus’ pick previously acquired by Vegas), in return for Max Pacioretty. pic.twitter.com/HEt3uEXOo5
“Merci, Max. Thank you, Max,” the team tweeted along with a video highlighting Pacioretty’s career.
Pacioretty was named Canadiens captain in 2015 and has played all 626 of his NHL games with Montreal. His name had been mentioned in trade speculation since last season’s trade deadline.
After four consecutive years with 30 goals or more, he struggled last year along with the team, recording only 37 points (17 goals and 20 assists) in 64 games.
Originally from Connecticut, Pacioretty was selected in the first round, 22nd overall, by the Canadiens at the 2007 NHL entry draft.
Pacioretty is returning to the United States — the home country he has represented on four occasions: the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, 2014 Winter Olympic Games, 2012 IIHF Men’s World Championship and 2008 IIHF World Junior Championship.
Tatar, originally from Slovakia, appeared in all 82 games with the Detroit Red Wings and the Golden Knights in 2017-18, recording 34 points (20 goals, 14 assists).
He has played in 427 regular-season NHL games with Detroit and Vegas, totalling 228 points (119 goals and 109 assists). He was selected in the second round, 60th overall, by Detroit at the 2009 NHL entry draft.
But the big get for the Habs is Suzuki, a top prospect who appeared in 64 games with the OHL’s Owen Sound Attack last year. He ranked fourth overall in league in scoring with 100 points (42 goals, 58 assists). Suzuki is from London, Ont., and was selected in the first round, 13th overall, by Vegas at the 2017 NHL entry draft.
There were reports in June that a deal to send Pacioretty to the Los Angeles Kings fell through when the two sides failed to agree on a contract.
Pacioretty is entering the final year of a team-friendly, six-year deal worth $4.5 million US per season and can become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2018-19 campaign.
Habs fans react to the trade
As the sun rose in Montreal Monday, Habs fans were digesting news of the trade with mixed emotions.
Yves Dubé said he has the feeling Marc Bergevin, general manager of the Canadiens, is desperate and other general managers are taking advantage.
“I didn’t like the trade,” Dubé told CBC early Monday.
“There were no negotiations going on with Pacioretty and the Canadiens, so I guess we knew it was coming, but I’m disappointed.”
Dubé said he doesn’t see the two new forwards as a good trade for the experienced captain. While there is a lot of talk about Pacioretty’s poor performance last season, he said, the whole team had it rough.
James Miller said it was a mistake to trade Pacioretty, and he would have kept the winger around a bit longer considering he was just made captain not long ago.
“I like how he got injured and came back stronger,” said Miller. “Some people thought he wasn’t going to come back and he came back.”
Stéphane Archambault, on the other hand, said he saw the trade as a good thing. Tatar is not a scorer like Pacioretty, he said, but “he’s not bad.”
“The mood will change. The new players will play,” said Archambault.
With files from Lauren McCallum and The Associated Press