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New York Islanders

Islanders Missed Out on Pacioretty, Perfect Player for Barzal



Max Pacioretty, New York Islanders

While the New York Islanders were waiting for Johnny Gaudreau to make his decision, they missed out on an opportunity to acquire one of the best snipers in Max Pacioretty–-for absolutely nothing.

Because the Vegas Golden Knights had to shed cap space to re-sign forward Riley Smith, left-winger Max Pacioretty and Dylan Coghlan were cap casualties to the Carolina Hurricanes, with the return to Vegas just future considerations.

Yep, that is all.

Pacioretty, 33, carries a salary cap hit of $7 million annually, with a modified no-trade clause (10 team no-trade list) per CapFriendly. He has one year remaining on his deal before he becomes an unrestricted free agent.

Were the New York Islanders on Pacioretty’s no-trade list? Who knows.

In 2021-22, Max Pacioretty played less than 40 games due to injury but scored 19 goals with 18 assists in 39 games.

Eight of his 19 goals came on the power play, which was a major weakness for the Vegas Golden Knights (18.4%).

The Islanders’ power play finished the 2021-22 season at 22.1% but could use a piece to get even stronger with the man advantage.

Pacioretty also recorded 148 shots this past season, 3.79 shots per game, with a shooting percentage of 12.8%.

Pacioretty, despite never playing in a stretch longer than 14 games in 2021-22, battled through a lot and was a leader on and off the ice,” Owen Krepps of Vegas Hockey Now shared.  “In December, he was on fire and had 10 goals and four assists for 14 points in 7 games.”

Max Pacioretty’s 82-game average over the last three seasons equates to 39 goals. The guy is a gifted goal scorer, who takes very little time to get his shot off. Besides his offensive play, he was a captain of the Montreal Canadiens and would have been a perfect addition in the locker room, a room that has a handful of leaders already.

Obviously, Vegas did not get enough out of Pacioretty last season because of injury, as his 18 goals were his third-lowest total since becoming a staple in an NHL lineup back in 2011-12 with the Canadiens. He has played 50 games or under just twice in his career, not including the shortened 2012-13 season, which was just 48 games.

Both those seasons came over the last two years.

The question for Pacioretty is obviously his health, as the 33-year-old is not getting any younger and has been playing big minutes in the NHL for 14 years. But the Islanders could have acquired Pacioretty and his cap hit, and if the season did not go as planned, general manager Lou Lamoriello could have let him walk.

It’s not like the Islanders would have had to send a handful of prospects to Vegas. The trade would have been low-risk, high reward.

However, because defensemen Noah Dobson and Alexander Romanov need contracts (both sent qualifying offers), the New York Islanders would need to move a contract to be cap compliant by the beginning of the 2022-23 season.

The player being moved would have to be Josh Bailey and his $5 million AAV. Now, it sounds like the Islanders are not interested in moving Bailey, but to acquire an elite sniper, it just might have had to happen.

To acquire any top player this postseason, Bailey’s contract would need to be moved.

New York Islanders forward Mathew Barzal, who is set to become a free agent after the 2022-23 season RFA), struggled this past season, as the rotation of players on his line has been a major issue in terms of building chemistry. Everyone believed Oliver Wahlstrom could be that guy, but the way Barzal plays makes it rather difficult to read.

The best player for a Barzal is a guy that finds open space in the offensive zone and is ready to release a shot as soon as the puck finds his stick. Max Pacioretty is that player, and at 6’2, 206 lbs also has the ability to drive the net as well.

Barzal will never be an Ovechkin, a player whose gift is goal-scoring. Barzal’s style of play is more like a Nicklas Backstrom, a playmaker.

Mathew Barzal needs his Ovechkin-like piece, and Max Pacioretty was the guy, but he will play the 2022-23 season donning the Carolina Hurricanes sweater.



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