NHL Rumor Mill – August 31, 2018
The latest on Max Pacioretty, Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky in your NHL rumor mill.
PACIORETTY’S SITUATION BECOMES A SOAP OPERA
LA PRESSE: Jean-Francois Tremblay cites Martin Leclerc of Radio Canada Sports claiming three solid sources say Montreal Canadiens captain Max Pacioretty repeatedly requested a trade last season. Leclerc added it’s not the first time Pacioretty asked to be dealt, reportedly expressing dissatisfaction back in 2013-14.
TSN: Pacioretty’s agent Allan Walsh was quick to respond, taking to Twitter yesterday denying the report and pointing out his client has consistently said he wants to remain with the Canadiens long term. Walsh insinuated the “sources” were coming from the Canadiens.
“Max will always take the high road and repeats again, he is ready to sign an extension with Montreal TODAY,” tweeted Walsh. “It was Montreal that traded Max to LA at the draft and it was a DONE DEAL subject to Max signing an extension with LA.”
That deal reportedly fell through when a contract extension couldn’t be worked out. It was around that time that Pacioretty fired Pat Brisson as his agent and replaced him with Walsh.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Pat Hickey reports a source close to Pacioretty denied Leclerc’s report that the winger requested a trade multiple times. The source also said Pacioretty received a call from Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin saying he was being traded to Los Angeles but the deal was conditional on the winger signing with the Kings, which Pacioretty declined to do.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This situation is getting ugly really fast. Regardless of who you believe, the relationship between the player and management appears to be eroding to the point of no return, with each side pointing the finger of blame at the other.
Some believe it best for the Canadiens to wait until the Feb. 25 trade deadline to move Pacioretty. However, this recent turn of events could pressure Bergevin to trade the winger soon to avoid having this hang over the club at the start of the season.
UPDATES ON PANARIN AND BOBROVKSY
THE ATHLETIC: Aaron Portzline reports the uncertainty over the futures of pending unrestricted free agents Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky have cast a pall over the Columbus Blue Jackets’ upcoming season. Panarin remains reluctant to come to the negotiating table. Meanwhile, there’s a wide gulf in the initial offers between the Jackets and Bobrovsky’s representatives and little discussion has taken place since then. Trading one or both players would likely submarine the Jackets’ season but letting both walk with no return next summer could hurt the club for the next several seasons.
Panarin reportedly has several preferred destinations, including the New York Rangers, New York Islanders, Los Angeles Kings, Tampa Bay Lightning, Florida Panthers and Dallas Stars. His agent denied this but Portzline cites NHL sources claiming the Rangers are the winger’s first choice.
The Blue Jackets have fielded trade offers of draft picks and prospects for Panarin but none of them contain anything that could ease the winger’s absence in 2018-19. Those offers won’t improve if the Rangers are perceived as Panarin’s top choice.
The Jackets don’t appear as concerned over Bobrovsky’s status. Portzline believes there’s a limited market for a starting goaltender seeking over $10 million per season. That could give the club a bit of leverage.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The status of Panarin and Bobrovsky is an unwelcome distraction for a Blue Jackets club hoping to take the next step toward Stanley Cup contention. As Portzline notes, if there’s a perception the Rangers are Panarin’s top choice the Jackets won’t get much for a guy who’ll be considered a playoff rental. The Rangers probably won’t waste assets making a trade offer this season for a player they can sign as a free agent next July.
Barring a change of heart on Panarin’s part, this season is probably his last with the Jackets. Whether he’s dealt before the start of the season, before the Feb. 25 trade deadline or departs via free agency next July remains to be determined. Moving him before the season opens in order to eliminate the distraction over his status seems like the best approach. However, the Jackets might decide to see how things unfold over the course of the schedule.
Bobrovsky is the Blue Jackets top goaltender but he’s yet to carry this club past the opening round of the playoffs. Indeed, his playoff performance doesn’t come close to matching his stellar regular-season play. The Jackets will likely put more emphasis on re-signing him but could remain reluctant paying over $10 million annually to do so. Unless they fall well out of contention this season, I doubt they’ll put Bobrovsky on the trade block before the deadline.