With half the hockey world asleep, Mark Bergevin was up late, deep in talks with George McPhee over star left-winger and almost-Los Angeles King Max Pacioretty.
The Canadiens have acquired forwards Tomas Tatar and Nick Suzuki, and a 2nd round pick in 2019 from the Vegas Golden Knights (Columbus’ pick previously acquired by Vegas), in return for Max Pacioretty. pic.twitter.com/HEt3uEXOo5— Canadiens Montréal (@CanadiensMTL) September 10, 2018
Tomas Tatar is a decent get, though he won’t replace the offense Pacioretty has been able to bring steadily over the years. But, they’re in a rebuild so it’s not a big deal. Nick Suzuki, on the other hand, is the big prize for Montreal.
In Nick Suzuki, the #Habs pick up another promising young center. 100 pts with the Owen Sound Attack last year as an 18 year old. They get help for now in Tatar ($5.3 mill x 3) & the future. But certainly not the return for Pacioretty that you would have expected last year.— Randip Janda (@RandipJanda) September 10, 2018
A genuine, bonafide center for Montreal! Huzzah! But, Suzuki is a highly prized prospect who will hopefully flourish in Quebec. The second round pick is also a pretty decent pickup for Bergevin, though everyone expected the return to be a 1st-plus.
This makes the second Habs trade that came close to Los Angeles (and the state of California, even, with some early summer rumors that the San Jose Sharks were interested in acquiring Pacioretty) but sadly bypassed it. This trade also makes the Pacific Division that much tougher.
A.Kopitar— Alex Faust (@alex_faust) September 10, 2018
…all in the same division. Might want to stay up late this season, east coast fam. #PacificDivisionAfterDark
And just in case there were any doubts that Pacioretty is a good trade for the Vegas Golden Knights, check this out.
Midnight trade! Pacioretty goes to Vegas. High shot volume player and underrated playmaker. Should replace what Vegas lost in Neal and then some.— Corey Sznajder (@ShutdownLine) September 10, 2018
Suzuki & a 2nd to the Habs along with Tatar's contract. pic.twitter.com/S70m2sk4bx
James Neal excelled on Vegas’ top line last season, racking up 44 points in 71 games while shooting close to (if slightly higher) than his career average.
LA’s offense is going to fall most heavily on 33-year-old Jeff Carter, 33-year-old Dustin Brown, 31-year-old Anze Kopitar, 35-year-old Ilya Kovalchuk, 31-year-old Alec Martinez, 33-year-old Dion Phaneuf, and 28 (soon to be 29) year-old Drew Doughty. Oh, and 32-year-old Jonathan Quick, who has a history of back injuries, will probably start close to 60 games in net. In a league that favors the young man’s game, and a system that was riddled with issues last season, it’s going to be tough sledding for the Kings to make the playoffs.
Buckle up, folks, it’s going to be a very bumpy season.