Florida Panthers: Acquiring Max Pacioretty Makes Sense

MONTREAL, QC - FEBRUARY 22: Look on Montreal Canadiens Left Wing Max Pacioretty (67) during the New York Rangers versus the Montreal Canadiens game on February 22, 2018, at Bell Centre in Montreal, QC (Photo by David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
MONTREAL, QC - FEBRUARY 22: Look on Montreal Canadiens Left Wing Max Pacioretty (67) during the New York Rangers versus the Montreal Canadiens game on February 22, 2018, at Bell Centre in Montreal, QC (Photo by David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

For quite a few months, Max Pacioretty has continued to be shopped by the Montreal Canadiens. Does Pacioretty make sense for the Florida Panthers?

Since the 2017-18 season’s trade deadline, the Montreal Canadiens have aggressively been pursuing trade options for their captain, Max Pacioretty. Even though they’ve tried to get rid of Pacioretty for a while now, nothing has materialized. Because Pacioretty suffered a dismal season last year, some teams might be a bit concerned offering the huge return that Montreal expects in return for Pacioretty.

One of the most rumored teams to be going after Pacioretty’s services has been the Florida Panthers. There have been numerous rumblings and rumors that point to Pacioretty suiting up in a Panthers jersey dating all the way back to the trade deadline. The Panthers were the clear front-runner for Pacioretty’s talents back at the deadline, and it appears that they still are to this very day.

One of the reasons why the Cats continue to stand as the leader to acquire Pacioretty is simply because he wants to be a Florida Panther. Back near the deadline, Pacioretty apparently mentioned to the Candiens organization that he would prefer a trade to the Panthers:

"“His feelings were so strong, in fact, that Pacioretty even identified the Florida Panthers as one of his preferred destinations” –per Friedman."

Perhaps one of the reason why a trade hasn’t been completed with anybody yet is Pacioretty’s reluctance to sign a long-term contract extension with any other team besides the Florida Panthers.

Other teams besides the Panthers who are willing to send a large haul over to Montreal in exchange for Pacioretty seem to expect Max to sign long-term. Pacioretty also wants to sign a huge extension. Having already sacrificed last time for the Habs, Pacioretty wants to secure possibly his last chance of getting a huge long-term deal.

After the draft and the first few days of free agency passed, a lot of talks about Pacioretty being traded slowed down. It even felt that there was a small possibility that the Canadiens might hang onto Pacioretty and let him lead their team once again.

However, just a few days ago, it was reported that the Canadiens had no interest in negotiating a contract extension with Pacioretty, and were looking to shop the 29-year-old winger:

Now that it’s been made known that the Canadiens are 100% going to trade Pacioretty away, everybody who’s had interest in the forward now has the advantage. In a way, this makes things a little bit more difficult for the Panthers in acquiring Pacioretty’s services, and here’s why.

Of course the Panthers could always bring Pacioretty by means of a trade. That would probably mean parting ways with Nick Bjugstad, a top prospect, and a 1st round draft pick. If the Habs agreed to that, the Panthers would probably get Pacioretty to ink a long-term extension, keeping him in Sunrise, Florida for at least another 5-6 years.

Everybody would then be happy. The Cats would now have one of the best top-six forward groups in the league, Pacioretty gets to play where he wants to be, and the Canadiens get rid of their captain.

But, if the Panthers don’t bring the best offer for Pacioretty to the table, and he is sent somewhere else by the Canadiens, the Panthers might never get their guy after all. Yes, Max wants to play in South Florida, but if a playoff contending team is willing to offer him a 8-year/$64 million deal, he’ll probably pounce.

Perhaps the best scenario for the Cats would’ve been to either wait until this upcoming season’s trade deadline to acquire him from Montreal, or just simply wait until the 2019 free agency period. They could either acquire him for cheap at the deadline and not only use him for their playoff push, but agree towards a long-term deal afterwards.

Or, if the Canadiens are too picky, the Panthers could simply wait until free agency and sign him without any problems. Because the Habs have made it known to the world that they want to trade Pacioretty immediately, this option is basically gone.

So, this basically leaves the Panthers with only one option. Trade for him now, or he’ll probably end up with some other club for a really long time. If the Cats want to build one of the league’s best top-six forward groups not only for this year, but at least for a few years to come, they should jump on Pacioretty now.

While there are marquee free agent forwards next season, there is no guarantee that they’ll want to come to South Florida. Acquiring Pacioretty not only gives you a shot at being a legitimate contender this year, but also for the forseeable future.

With Tampa Bay and Toronto all improving this offseason, it puts even more pressure on the Panthers to bring in another piece. If Florida want to show that they are up there with the big boys, then they’ll need to play with the same type of tactics.

Next: How Competitive Can the Florida Panthers be?

It’s still up in the air where Max Pacioretty will play hockey next season, but when he does get moved, don’t be surprised if the Panthers bring Pacioretty down to Sunrise, Florida, ultimately granting him his wish.