By: Andrew Johnson | Follow me on Twitter @Justyouknowhyyy
The Vegas Golden Knights are in a bind right now – and it is all their fault.
It is a long list of why: Vegas has put their backs against the salary cap wall led by the philosophy that cap trouble is temporary, but championships are forever. Fellow teams are unwilling to provide the needed relief after General Manager George McPhee lorded over all 30 of them in the expansion draft, telling them the immortal line “you can negotiate out of this if you wish,” which is something GMs have not forgotten even four years later. With all of that plus the signing of the jewel of Free Agency in Alexander Pietrangelo, the Vegas Golden Knights are unequivocally in cap trouble. Needing another team’s help to get out of it. Heavy is the head that wears the crown.
Part and parcel with this situation are the trade rumors. The most persistent one has been Vegas gauging interest in regular 30-goal scorer Max Pacioretty, and in what has been consistent all offseason, the team that jumped to the head of the line on the rumor mill was the Boston Bruins.
Fellow BNG writer Michael Digiorgio ran a poll and wrote a concurrent piece as to why Boston should be the team to make a deal that involves trading 24-year old Left-Winger Jake Debrusk (give it a read here), a still-developing but established 20-goal scoring forward with consistency issues, but on an affordable bridge deal.
Trading that production for a forward who has six 30-goal seasons to his credit does sound like a no-brainer, but there are a few caveats that ultimately pulls one away. Even if the cap isn’t an issue, I have three main points that lead me to disagree with the idea of Max Pacioretty coming to Boston.
Even in a situation where we aren’t taking cap into account, Pacioretty’s contract is still an issue. Pacioretty’s contract runs three more years as a nearly immovable contract; the act of taking on such a deal runs counter to what Boston needs to be doing with the long-term health of the roster in mind. Though Pacioretty is a well-established sniper in the NHL, three more years is too long. If Pacioretty’s contract were in its final season, it would be easy to sign off on a trade. However, at three more years on an iron-clad contract for a player at 32-years-old on a team that needs to start thinking about incorporating youth sooner rather than later, the cost of a still-developing scoring forward is steep enough where it would ultimately create a “one foot in each aisle” situation that Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney does not want to deal with.
Father time is undefeated
Even though Pacioretty was able to rebound last year, returning to his 30-goal normal, Max’s previous two years could be described charitably as “bad,” averaging less than 20 goals over those seasons with negative five-on-five metrics, Pacioretty’s rebound from those seasons is to be commended; however, the cynic’s side would say that historically speaking this is an aberration rather than a trend. Should a team decide to trade for Pacioretty, it would be too risky to swing a deal when you don’t know which Pacioretty you’re going to get going forward, especially for three more years. Age and time do not go backward.
Let the Knights twist in the wind as long as possible
This one is 100% personal, but it applies the same. There is not anything that the Vegas Golden Knights could offer in a trade that would give the Boston Bruins a net-positive. With an eye on the long-term health of the Franchise, trading a player like Debrusk for one who is eight-years older on a hard-to-move contract does not move the needle. Eventually, a team will come correct with an offer that can benefit them, so why should Boston be Vegas’ “Knight” in shining armor if it is not them?
George McPhee was given carte-blanche to throw his weight around at the expense of ruffling the feathers of the brotherhood. However, Vegas’ success that came with this approach is not up for debate; ultimately, however, the poetic justice of the very team that shook down every one of their contemporaries four years ago needing to reevaluate a situation of their own doing adds a wrinkle of front office intrigue that is lacking in today’s National Hockey League.
Michael DiGiorgio laid out some good points as to why Max Pacioretty could be a legitimate option for the Bruins. In the end, I and ultimately Bruins fans decided against the idea. It has come out since this original news broke that Knights owner Bill Foley has no intention of trading Max Pacioretty, but as we have learned over the years, these announcements happen all the time and are mostly taken with a boulder of salt. Help is on the way for the Golden Knights soon, but unless the pot is a much sweeter one that holds both short and long-term gain for them, Vegas’s lifeboat should not have the eight-spoked B adorned upon it when the time comes.