Early Monday morning, the Vegas Golden Knights and Montreal Canadiens made one of the biggest trades of the off-season, sending the Max Pacioretty to the desert for Tomas Tatar, prospect Nick Suzuki and a 2019 second-round pick.
Aside from that second-round pick originally belonging to Columbus, this deal doesn’t have much of a direct impact on the Blue Jackets. Neither of these teams play in the Metropolitan Division and the best player in the deal went out west. Indirectly, however, this deal has shaped the market for wingers with one year remaining on their deal – which has a big impact on the Blue Jackets and Artemi Panarin.
Of the two players, Panarin is easily the much better and more valuable. He’s three years younger, and has scored 70-plus points in each of the last three seasons, something Pacioretty has never done. Montreal was also in the position of “we have to trade this player,” which kills any sort of leverage.
What this trade does is set a baseline for the Blue Jackets and Panarin. Any negotiation for Panarin starts with this package of a good prospect (Suzuki was rated as Vegas’ #4 prospect by Corey Pronman of the Athletic) and a high draft pick. The value of Tatar in this deal is interesting, as he could be a useful player but was largely a salary dump for the Golden Knights.
A realistic trade for the Jackets would be something along the lines of: a similar prospect, a first-round pick and a good middlesix player. The thought that the Jackets are going to get an uber prospect if they trade Panarin is unrealistic; teams are reluctant to give up those prospects, especially when there is no guarantee that the player will stay. One thing that helped Montreal in this situation was Pacioretty was willing to sign an extension with the team he was being traded to. Panarin doesn’t come with that; he has expressed his interest to explore free agency and, unless the Jackets can get a list of teams he would be open to re-signing it with, his value takes a hit.
The Jackets are not in a good spot and a team understandably doesn’t want to give up major assets to be in the same situation. Having just a single year kills a lot of Panarin’s trade value. I always bring this type of stuff back to baseball: every year, Fangraphs does a series ranking the 50 most valuable players in the game. What’s noteworthy about their list is that every player in the top 50 had at least two years of team control. Clayton Kershaw, who might be the best pitcher in the game, didn’t make the list, as if he’s traded he can opt out of his deal, essentially giving him only a single year of control.
This is where the Jackets are at with Panarin. Teams like the Panthers aren’t going to give up a Vincent Trocheck or Henrik Borgstrom for Panarin without a guarantee he will re-sign. It’s for this same reason we have seen Dallas not want to give up Miro Heiskanen and Vegas not willing to give up Cody Glass in an Erik Karlsson trade.
The Pacioretty trade gives the Blue Jackets a look at the potential market for these types of players, and perhaps it isn’t what they were expecting. This is why I've been pushing all off-season for the team to go all in around Panarin and try to make a deep run in the playoffs. A long run would be more valuable to this franchise.
Follow 1st Ohio Battery