Would Max Pacioretty be a good fit with the Sabres?

June 21, 2018 - 1:11 pm

Joe DiBiase reporting

For pretty much the entire offseason any trade talk surrounding the Buffalo Sabres has included Ryan O'Reilly. Pretty much any talk about where O'Reilly could be dealt includes the Montreal Canadiens. Whether it's Darren Dreger, Bob McKenzie, Elliotte Friedman, or others talking, Montreal and Buffalo have been linked on O'Reilly. Now we may have a good idea of who Montreal would offer in return.

"The Sabres are in on a lot of players. Max Pacioretty may be at the top of that list." - Sportsnet's Jeff Marek on The Fan 590 in Toronto

If the Sabres were to acquire Canadiens captain Max Pacioretty in an O'Reilly trade, he'd become the team's most decorated player on the wing. Since he became a regular in the NHL, he's consistently scored 30 goals or more.

2011-12: 79 GP, 33 G, 32 A, 65 PTS

2012-13: 44 GP, 15 G, 24 A, 39 PTS

2013-14: 73 GP, 39 G, 21 A, 60 PTS

2014-15: 80 GP, 37 G, 30 A, 67 PTS

2015-16: 82 GP, 30 G, 34 A, 64 PTS

2016-17: 81 GP, 35 G, 32 A, 67 PTS

2017-18: 64 GP, 17 G, 20 A, 37 PTS

One stat that could indicate that Pacioretty is poised for a bounce back season is shot percentage. Last season he was firing at 8%, the lowest since his second year in the league. Pacioretty's average shot percentage for his career is 11%. Now maybe he never gets back to the rate he was once scoring at. Matt Moulson had a 14% shot percentage with the Islanders. From age 30 on with the Sabres it was 8.9%.

Many Sabre fans might be hesitant to want Pacioretty in an O'Reilly deal. We've seen Moulson and Kyle Okposo come to the team in their late twenties and decline as players. The difference in this situation could be the speed that Pacioretty possesses. Moulson and Okposo never made their money on flying up the wing. The Canadiens captain could see the prime of his career last longer because of that aspect.

Another area Pacioretty could help the Sabres in is 5 vs. 5 scoring. The Sabres year after year have been at the bottom of the league when at even strength. Pacioretty has averaged 21 even strength goals a year. One of the best in the NHL over the last decade.

The contract is a factor in talking about the 29-year old as well. Pacioretty has been one of the most underpaid players in the league. He's in the final year of a 6-year deal worth $4.5 million a year. The Sabres would need to have a solid indication he'd resign in Buffalo to make him a key part of such an impactful trade. Even then, what are we talking about? It's usually not the smartest move to give a 30-year old a long term contract.

Whether he ends up on the Sabres or not it does appear that Jason Botterill is at least interested. There are many positives to acquiring Pacioretty. One could simply be he'd be the most consistent scorer Jack Eichel's ever played with.

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