Ex­pect max ef­fort in Las Ve­gas

Knights GM adds Pa­cioretty to band of Golden Mis­fits

Calgary Herald - - SPORTS - MICHAEL TRAIKOS [email protected] twit­ter.com/Michael_Traikos

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.

Max Pa­cioretty

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