Expect max effort in Las Vegas
Knights GM adds Pacioretty to band of Golden Misfits
Fresh off signing a three-year contract extension worth US$21 million, Marc-Andre Fleury was asked last week if he still feels like a “Golden Misfit.” He laughed.
That nickname became a rallying cry for an expansion team made up of castoffs and rejects. But in a summer where Paul Stastny willingly signed in Vegas as a free agent and several other Golden Knights got raises, it no longer seems to fit.
“We might have to change our group text name,” a grinning Fleury said last week in Chicago. Hold that thought.
In the early hours of Monday morning, Montreal traded captain Max Pacioretty to Vegas for winger Tomas Tatar, prospect centre Nick Suzuki and a 2019 second-round pick.
Then later on Monday, the Golden Knights signed Pacioretty to a four-year contract extension worth an average annual value of $7 million.
Pacioretty, who was criticized for his leadership in Montreal and practically run out of town, will certainly have no trouble fitting in with his new teammates.
The 29-year-old is a misfit in the same way that Jonathan Marchessault, William Karlsson and head coach Gerard Gallant were misfits last season. In other words, he shouldn’t be lacking in motivation after what was the worst season of his NHL career..
For Vegas, which reached the Stanley Cup final in Year 1, this is what an encore looks like.
Whatever you make of the pieces coming back to Montreal — it’s a bit surprising the rebuilding Canadiens didn’t get a firstround pick — this was a win for the Golden Knights.
Not only did they get a player in Pacioretty who has averaged 31 goals and 59 points in the past five seasons, they get one who will be motivated to prove the Habs wrong for giving up on him.
At the same time, Vegas looks no worse for wear after the deal.
In landing Pacioretty, the Golden Knights gave up Tatar, an over-priced winger unable to crack their playoff roster, as well as their No. 3-ranked prospect in Suzuki and a second-round pick.
And while Suzuki (13th overall, 2017) could grow into the type of top-line centre that makes Montreal fans forget about Pacioretty, Vegas still kept two of its top prospects in centre Cody Glass and Swedish defenceman Erik Brannstrom.
Give Golden Knights GM George McPhee a lot of credit: Just because Vegas reached the final last season does not mean the team was guaranteed to pull off a similar result with the same players in Year 2.
This team looks a lot better on paper than it did a year ago.
The Golden Knights might not catch opponents off guard or rally behind a shared sense of rejection. But after a summer where they grabbed a top-line centre and a top-line winger, it’s clear the show is just getting started.