With the start of the NHL season nearing, teams are preparing to make their final offseason moves to solidify their lineups. A name that has been recently rumored to be on the move is Vegas Golden Knights’ forward Max Pacioretty. Pacioretty would be the perfect fit for the Pittsburgh Penguins, as they look to add another veteran forward to help lead the team. The Penguins have shown interest in the American-born winger, who the Knights look to offload prior to the start of the season, however, Pens General Manager Jim Rutherford will have to crunch some numbers in order to make the potential trade happen.
Following the conclusion of last season, the Penguins had expressed their desire to acquire some veteran players to join the team, as GM Rutherford felt the team was lacking leadership, which makes it that less surprising to see the Pens showing interest in Pacioretty. The team, however, is not alone in the race to acquire the left-winger as several other teams could be suitors for Pacioretty. Among those teams interested are the Nashville Predators, the New Jersey Devils, and the Florida Panthers who too look for a veteran leader with a lot left to give.
Pacioretty carries a seven-million dollar cap hit over the next three seasons making this a complicated move for the Penguins. The Golden Knights currently sit above the cap ceiling heading into the new season which is why they are desperate to offload his large contract to become cap compliant. This could bring the asking price for the former first-round pick down as his departure is a necessity before the proposed January 13th start date.
The 32-year-old is coming off a very productive season posting 32 goals and 34 assists through 71 games. He was on pace to surpass his career-high in points prior to the stoppage of play. The former Montreal Canadiens captain has 554 career points through 763 career games and shows no signs of slowing down. He could bring offensive upside to the Pens’ already dangerous top Powerplay unit while sliding into a left-wing position on one of the teams’ top lines. He was named an NHL All-Star in 2020 for the first time in his career and won the Bill Masterson trophy in 2012. Pacioretty was the 22nd overall pick in the 2007 draft and has plenty of playoff experience with both the Canadiens and the Golden Knights posting 20 goals and 18 assists in 61 career playoff games. The Connecticut-native is still searching for a Stanley Cup ring and joining the experienced core playing alongside one of Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin would be an intriguing opportunity for him.
The Penguins are currently up against the cap with a total of $1.3M dollars in available cap space which would make this a challenging trade for both sides. The Pens would need to offload six-million dollars to afford Pacioretty’s contract as the Golden Knights will not be able to retain any salary on the deal. Despite the difficult measures surrounding the possible trade, a deal could potentially be on the table if it fits both parties. Regardless of whether the winger lands in Pittsburgh or not, it has become increasingly unlikely that he will still be in Vegas come January.