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Report: The Montreal Canadiens have begun discussions on a potential Max Pacioretty contract extension

After months of trade rumours and speculation, the possibility of the captain staying with the Habs seems to be on the table.

NHL: Colorado Avalanche at Montreal Canadiens Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

In a news roundup, the TSN insiders discussed potential trades and free agent targets to watch once the season comes to an end. At the conclusion of a segment about players like John Tavares, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, and Phil Kessel, Darren Dreger mentioned that preliminary discussions have begun between Marc Bergevin and Max Pacioretty’s representative, Pat Brisson, on a potential contract extension.

Pacioretty’s name had been mentioned in trade rumours since about the midway mark of the 2017-18 season, one in which the captain, normally reliable to score at least 30 goals, produced just 17. That halved output had many wondering if he was in the first stages of decline, and should be moved while he could still be exchanged for a significant return.

A future with the team seemed an unlikely outcome when he finished the year in the pressbox after a season-ending knee injury. What served as a plea to stay with the team and be part of a solution to turn the franchise’s fortunes around in an end-of-year media availability may have led to a change in how the brass approached the looming free agency of one of the league’s top goal-scorers.

A six-year contract worth $4.5 million per season — one so team-friendly it led to the player parting ways with his agent shortly afterward — is set to come to an end after the 2018-19 season. During the first five seasons of that agreement, Pacioretty has proven to be one of the the NHL’s greatest bargains, not only being a reliable two-way player for his team, but posting 158 goals to sit third in the league among left-wingers in that category. He ranked 10th among all players in the NHL over that span, and that’s with that outlier of a 17-goal campaign.

Should a new contract be coming his way, it will be worth more than what he is earning on his current deal. Franchise players have been seeing values in the double digits in recent years (with Carey Price being one of them), while young top-line centres have been around the $8-million mark. Given the complete game Pacioretty plays, his place among the top goal-producers in the league, and the fact that he is the team captain, you would imagine the dollar figure would be somewhere around the $7-million range, or perhaps higher as the salary cap expands for the next season.

Based on his overall performance, it’s hard to argue against him being worth that much, but given the previous season’s performance, there may be some hesitation on Bergevin’s part to commit that much when July 1 rolls around.

Recent contracts for wingers

Player Position Age AAV Years Cap pct. Date
Player Position Age AAV Years Cap pct. Date
Evander Kane LW 26 $7,000,000 7 9.33 2018-05-24
Nikolaj Ehlers LW 21 $6,000,000 7 8.00 2017-10-04
David Pastrnak RW 21 $6,666,666 6 8.89 2017-09-14
Alexander Radulov RW 30 $6,250,000 5 8.33 2017-07-03
Patrick Marleau LW 37 $6,250,000 3 8.33 2017-07-02
Artemi Panarin LW 25 $6,000,000 2 8.22 2016-12-28
Johnny Gaudreau LW 23 $6,750,000 6 9.25 2016-10-10
Brad Marchand LW 28 $6,125,000 8 8.39 2016-09-26
Jamie Benn LW 27 $9,500,000 8 13.01 2016-07-15
Loui Eriksson RW 31 $6,000,000 6 8.22 2016-07-01
Milan Lucic LW 28 $6,000,000 7 8.22 2016-07-01
Kyle Okposo RW 29 $6,000,000 7 8.22 2016-07-01
Contract details via CapFriendly