Would Pacioretty be a good fit with the Sabres?

June 21, 2018 - 1:11 pm

Joe DiBiase reporting

For most of the offseason, any trade talk surrounding the Buffalo Sabres has included forward Ryan O'Reilly.

Since trade talks have started, most reports of trade rumblings involving O'Reilly have tied his name to the Montreal Canadiens. Whether it's Darren Dreger, Bob McKenzie, Elliotte Friedman, or others talking, Montreal and Buffalo have been linked on O'Reilly.

Now we may have a good idea of who Montreal would offer in return.

"The Sabres are in on a lot of players. Max Pacioretty may be at the top of that list." - Sportsnet's Jeff Marek on The Fan 590 in Toronto

If the Sabres were to acquire Canadiens captain Max Pacioretty in an O'Reilly trade, he'd become the team's most decorated player on the wing. Since he became a regular in the NHL, he's consistently been able to score 30 goals or more every season.

Here's a look at his stat line over the past several years:

2011-12: 79 GP, 33 G, 32 A, 65 PTS

2012-13: 44 GP, 15 G, 24 A, 39 PTS

2013-14: 73 GP, 39 G, 21 A, 60 PTS

2014-15: 80 GP, 37 G, 30 A, 67 PTS

2015-16: 82 GP, 30 G, 34 A, 64 PTS

2016-17: 81 GP, 35 G, 32 A, 67 PTS

2017-18: 64 GP, 17 G, 20 A, 37 PTS

One stat that could indicate that Pacioretty is poised for a bounce back season is shot percentage. Last season, he was firing at eight-percent, which is the lowest percentage since his second year in the league. Pacioretty's average shot percentage for his career is 11-percent. Now, maybe he never gets back to the rate he was once scoring at. Matt Moulson had a 14-percent shot percentage with the New York Islanders, but from age 30 and on with the Sabres, it was 8.9-percent.

Many Sabres fans might be hesitant to want Pacioretty in an O'Reilly deal. We've seen Moulson and Kyle Okposo come to the team in their late 20s and decline as players. The difference in this situation could be the speed that Pacioretty possesses. Moulson and Okposo never made their money on flying up the wing., but the Canadiens captain could see the prime of his career last longer because of that aspect.

Another area Pacioretty could help the Sabres in is 5-on-5 scoring. The Sabres, year-after-year, have been at the bottom of the league when at even strength. Pacioretty has averaged 21 even strength goals per-year, which is one of the best totals in the NHL over the last decade.

However, Pacioretty's contract is a factor with talking about the 29-year old. Pacioretty has been one of the most underpaid players in the league, and is entering the final year of a six-year deal worth $4.5 million per-year. The Sabres would need to have a solid indication he'd re-sign in Buffalo to make him a key part of such an impactful trade. Even then, giving a 30-year-old a long-term contract has shown to have back fired from time to time.

Whether he ends up on the Sabres or not, it does appear that Jason Botterill is at least interested. There seems to be many positives to acquiring Pacioretty. One could simply be he'd be the most consistent scorer Jack Eichel's ever played with.

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