Starting on Monday, we kicked off our week-long season reviews of the Montreal Canadiens, starting with none other than Max Pacioretty. Now that the weekend is has arrived, here's a recap of what had on the Captain.
We talked about how Pacioretty's decrease in goals, points, and shooting percentage were a disappointment, but how underlying numbers also show that he got far less help from his teammates than he has gotten in the past — both from his linemates, and from his defensemen. For whatever reason, playing with Jonathan Drouin didn't pan out, and the inconsistency on that front likely contributed to the decrease in numbers.
It has also been noted that, for better or worse, Pacioretty spent much of the season working to be more of a playmaker for guys like Drouin. While it's certainly a good thing that Pacioretty continues to work on developing all aspects of his game (a couple of years ago, it was his defensive play that he especially wanted to improve), the Habs need their best goal-scorer to do just that.
While there were personal and team-related issues that contributed to the Captain's off year, there was also an element of bad luck involved. Although he shot more, he scored less, bringing his shooting percentage way down. Despite this, his power-play numbers remained fairly consistent with other years, even while playing second fiddle to Shea Weber and Alex Galchenyuk. On the flip-side, however, he got fewer chances on the penalty kill, and since the Canadiens’ were second-worst in the league in that department, it meant fewer chances for, and many goals against for one of team's short-handed staples.
All these factors led to a storm of trade rumours, and some of Pacioretty's most honest and raw moments with the media. Despite the rough season, the criticisms — both deserved and otherwise — and the ever present rumors, the Captain reaffirmed his desire to remain in the bleu-blanc-rouge, his commitment to the C, and his love for the city. Though he did point out, he can't do it all by himself.
Whether or not they should, if the Habs do elect to move on from their Captain, they're going to have to make a really good trade. The problem with that is they'll be trading a great player still on a killer contract at his lowest value since becoming a regular NHLer. He's simultaneously hilariously attractive to other teams, and unlikely to fetch a piece of equal value (although you never know what the Oilers might cough up...). It's not a matter of whether they can move him, but whether they should. The best move in this situation may be no move at all.
Does he need to be better than he was this year? Absolutely. But at the end of the day, even after a really lousy season, Pacioretty is still one of the best left-wingers in hockey. The numbers don't lie. And they're not even the fancy ones.
Completely leaving aside the fact that his contract remains absurdly cheap, he remains top-five in goals scored since the 2013-14 season (third after no less than Alex Ovechkin and Brad Marchand), and it's more than likely that this season will be a mere blip on the radar for a perennial 30-goal-scorer.
Which leads us to our last point: throughout the week we have posted some of Pacioretty's best moments this year, and asked you to vote for your favourite. The ballots are in, and the community has voted the Captain's record-setting OT goal to be his highlight of the year.
Even in a terrible, no good, very bad year, Max Pacioretty was still a record-setter.
How do you grade Max Pacioretty’s 2017-18 season?
This poll is closed