The Pacioretty Trade: Let the Rebuild Begin (But Dare Not Speak Its Name)

Just when you thought Marc Bergevin had backed himself into an all-too familiar corner, with the punditry saying he’d never net the same return as Canes’ GM Jim Rutherford – a prospect and three picks, including a second-rounder, for Jeff Skinner – the Habs’ GM pulled a proverbial rabbit from his helmet in the form of consensus top prospect Nick Suzuki. The second-round pick was gravy on the poutine. With this trade, Bergevin may have saved his muscled bacon. Perhaps most encouragingly, he and the organization have sent a strong message to fans that the rebuild is officially on, if we can all just agree not to call it that.

Expect more of the same this season, with the Habs falling deep out of playoff contention by the time Weber returns from injury. A blessing in disguise, in my view, as it will hasten the rebuild and allow the Habs’ brass to add to their already rich trove of picks from what’s expected to be a banner 2019 draft class.

Will Weber be the next to go? I’m guessing they want him around to mentor the kids—second-tier prospects like Josh Brook and Cale Fleury, for starters, who’re close to turning pro. Fair enough. Man Mountain showing the ropes to the new line of defence can only help fine-tune their development. Carey Price, traded? Highly unlikely, unless there’s a GM unhinged enough to take on his contract.

More importantly for Bergevin, he’s finally addressed the Canadiens’ epic and much-bemoaned need for a number-one centreman—check that: they’ll take a number two, as well.  At long last, the Habs, in a few short years, should be stacked at the position—something we haven’t been able to say for as long as most of us can remember.

In trading their captain and the face of the franchise, the Habs are also acknowledging what most of us have known for a few years now: Pacioretty may have been a worthy ambassador for the franchise, but he is too mercurial a player – his playoff record (10 goals in 38 games) speaks to a steep decline in production when the post-season intensity ratchets up – to act as captain of an NHL team.

On the ice, where it matters, Max Pacioretty lacks the mettle needed to lead men into battle.

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