Montreal Canadiens: The Max Pacioretty trade that almost happened

DENVER, CO - FEBRUARY 14: Max Pacioretty
DENVER, CO - FEBRUARY 14: Max Pacioretty /

Max Pacioretty was a top topic at the 2018 NHL Draft, and the Montreal Canadiens came very close to trading him before circumstances shut down discussions.

How many players can say that they were almost traded twice in a single week? (Probably a lot, but we’d never know about it). The Montreal Canadiens were in that situation with Max Pacioretty.

The 29-year-old was the team’s top trading chip heading into the offseason. With the skill of an elite goal-scorer and a cap friendly contract to match, it wasn’t a surprise that other organizations were calling. Not to mention the fact that the draft seems, and more specifically the month of June, seems to be the time for the bigger transactions in the NHL nowadays.

The Los Angeles Kings were close to getting a deal done for Pacioretty. However, the two sides couldn’t agree on a succeeding contract. Apparently, the offer was a part of the reason why Pacioretty chose to part ways from Pat Brisson.

There was talk ahead of the event in Dallas that could’ve seen a scenario where the Montreal Canadiens obtain Ryan O’Reilly. But Buffalo’s interest in the third-overall pick made that unlikely. According to Eric Engels, Marc Bergevin didn’t give up on trying to acquire O’Reilly and had a plan to do it that involved the New York Islanders.

Triple Threat Match

The plan was to send Pacioretty off to Brooklyn (or Rhode Island, their arena location is wonky at the moment) in exchange for the 11th or 12th overall pick. Montreal would then use that selection as well as other pieces in a package to obtain the faceoff specialist. Odds are a pair of those second-round picks would’ve then belonged to the Sabres.

But like all well-thought-out plans in a movie, this one didn’t happen.

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Players who were expected to be taken out of the top ten, we’re being taken in the top ten. Blame the Arizona Coyotoes and New York Rangers for drafting Barret Hayton and Vitaly Kravtsov respectively. All that and more led to Oliver Wahlstrom and Noah Dobson being available at 11 and 12.

Wahlstrom was described as being one of the best pure goal scorers available in the draft. The Islanders didn’t give up the chance to take him and a reliable two-way defenceman in Dobson. And thus, the end of the 3-way trade.


You can’t blame the Islanders for passing on the deal. It’ll take some time, but those back-to-back picks will look great for them.

Additionally, the Montreal Canadiens wouldn’t have been able to draft two of Jesse Ylonen, Jacob Oloffson, or Alexander Romanov. The benefit of it was that O’Reilly would be on the team, but it’s a good long-term silver lining. There’s also a chance that more could’ve been part of the deal that wasn’t reported by Engles.

As it stands now, Pacioretty being on the team to start the season looks more and more likely. Contrary to popular belief, that isn’t a terrible thing for the Habs. Who knows what a half season of production will do to his trade value.

On the other hand, word is that the Sabres want to get a deal done for O’Reilly before July 1st to avoid paying his signing bonus goes into effect. There are still another three days until then leaving Bergevin and GM Jason Botterill plenty of time to talk.

Next: The Tryouts at Development Camp

Perhaps Buffalo tries to go for bodies instead of predominantly picks. If that’s the case than the Mike Richards-type trade discussions could pick up again.