Geek of the Week: Now Might Be the Best Time to Acquire Max Pacioretty

by Scott Maran on October 21, 2018
  • Geek of the Week
  • Geek of the Week: Now Might Be the Best Time to Acquire Max Pacioretty


Across his career Max Pacioretty has always been a consistently good forward. A five-time 30-goal scorer, the former captain of the Montreal Canadiens has averaged at least 60 points in six out of his last seven seasons. He was a model of consistency and as close to a lock for 30+ goals as you could get.

But come last year, Pacioretty stumbled through most of the season. Finishing with only 37 points in 64 points, Pacioretty failed to score at least at a 50-point pace for the first time since 2010. Injuries and some bad luck played large roles in Pacioretty recording the worst statistical season of his career, which was the final nail in the coffin for the Canadiens. They shipped him out to Las Vegas over the summer, where people were hoping he could get a fresh start on a new club.

Heading into the season, Pacioretty was still projected to provide loads of value. His previous six seasons weren’t all of a sudden forgotten, and it is very likely that last year was a mere aberration, not Pacioretty’s new normal. A career 11 percent shooter, Pacioretty finished last season with the lowest shooting percentage of his career.

Even if Pacioretty had only shot his career average shooting percentage, he would have finished with six more goals and been on pace for 55 points (not amazing, but not nearly as bad as his final totals). Combined with the Canadiens struggling as a whole to score (29th most goals for in the NHL), it’s not difficult to explain what went wrong for Pacioretty.

According to our Fantasy Hockey Geek tool, at the beginning of the new season Max Pacioretty was projected to provide the 56th most value out of all NHL skaters (in an average 12-team Yahoo league measuring goals, assists, shots on goal, power-play points, and hits).
 

 

Rank

FHG Value

GP

G

A

SOG

PPP

HITS

Jack Eichel

55

31

71

30

46

249

27

40

Max Pacioretty

56

31

77

30

28

266

20

95

Tyson Barrie

57

31

73

13

41

177

22

37


Pacioretty has always been a player who contributes a lot in categories other than goals and assists and it shows in his shot and hit totals. His 212 shots in 64 games last year would have put him on pace for 271 shots by the end of the season, which would have been the 14th most in the entire league. And while he won’t get you as many hits as a Dustin Brown type of a player, for a premier goal scorer he racks up a ton. Last season he even averaged the most hits he’s ever had in a season, setting a new career high in almost 20 fewer games. Even if we see Pacioretty just barely fail to hit 60 points (which is a little low considering his previous six seasons before last year), he’ll still provide top-notch value.

So why is now the time to look into acquiring Pacioretty? With Pacioretty being sent to a new team for a supposedly fresh start, fantasy owners were probably expecting the old Pacioretty to suddenly emerge, the one who was consistently putting pucks into the back of the net. However, seven games in and Pacioretty hasn’t delivered, only registering one goal and zero assists. He’s only converted on 5.3 percent of his shots and Vegas as a team has struggled early with the man-advantage, tied for the least amount of power play goals by any team. This will surely work itself out though, as a power-play unit of Pacioretty, William Karlsson, Jonathan Marchessault, and Reilly Smith will eventually start scoring.

Pacioretty had probably already been projected to provide underrated value and if a fantasy owner is getting frustrated, acquiring him for even a slightly lower price than usual could pay huge dividends. If some are viewing Pacioretty’s poor start (along with his rough season last year) as a sign of decline, they may be already looking to jump ship before it gets even worse. Pacioretty’s value has never been lower in the past nine years, so now’s the time to make a move if you want to acquire him.

What are the risks?

No deal is without risk though, and there’s a reason that owners might start getting a little worried about Pacioretty. The main concern would be his new usage in Vegas. Previously leaned heavily upon in Montreal to be the go-to offensive threat, it’s looking like Pacioretty is now in more of a secondary scoring role behind the Golden Knights’ fabled first line. For the first time in six years Pacioretty is averaging less than 17 minutes of icetime per game, when he usually saw between 18 and 19 minutes per game in Montreal.

Also, with the first line set as Karlsson, Marchessault, and Smith, this leaves Pacioretty to play with less talented players. Though Paul Stastny is no slouch, he’s now expected to be out for months, leaving Pacioretty to play with skaters like Erik Haula and Tomas Hyka. It’s not an awful situation, but far from ideal.

Finally, it’s only been a small sample, but Pacioretty has only taken 23 shots through eight games. Once again, it’s not awful but it’s lower than what we’ve come to expect from the winger. Usually around the 270 mark, 2.88 shots per game only puts Pacioretty at 236 by the end of the season, which would be his lowest amount since his sophomore season.

Even though it’s far from a sure thing that Pacioretty will bounce back as a 35+ goal scorer, I’d rather bet on him than against him. If an owner is already panicking from his slow start, now may be the best time to acquire him.