With the 2020-21 campaign expected to open sometime next month, it seems teams across the league will likely be attempting to shed some money very shortly, meaning the Detroit Red Wings could look to make a salary dump type trade before next season opens.
Though the front office has already made some significant moves this winter, which includes adding veterans Bobby Ryan, Marc Staal, and Vladislav Namestnikov, the organization still has a little flexibility to add another high-profile skater, as they currently feature approximately $9.5 million in cap space, according to CapFriendly.com. Adding to this, there are reportedly a handful of impact players available, as several teams are attempting to squeeze under the $81.5 million salary cap.
The list of teams currently exceeding that threshold includes the Arizona Coyotes, Tampa Bay Lightning, Vancouver Canucks, St. Louis Blues, Toronto Maple Leafs, Washington Capitals, Anaheim Ducks, Winnipeg Jets, Edmonton Oilers, and the Las Vegas Golden Knights.
While some experts believe general manager Steve Yzerman should utilize his prior connections with the Lightning to strike a deal, it’d also make plenty of sense for him to reach out to the Golden Knights and attempt to acquire someone like forward Max Pacioretty – who’s slated to make $7 million in 2021. Even though owner Bill Foley has stated the team isn’t looking to move him, recent reports suggest that hasn’t been the case this off-season, according to Frank Seravalli of TSN.
Considering Las Vegas will need to reduce its payroll by nearly $1 million before the 2020-21 campaign opens, they don’t necessarily need to part ways with Pacioretty, but doing so would certainly help them fill out the remainder of their roster. If management were able to locate a team willing to absorb his entire salary, which Detroit is capable of doing, then they could fill the final two spots on their active roster with a pair of reasonably priced skaters.
Despite posting one of the best statistical performances of his career last season – where he produced 32 goals, 66 points, 19 power-play points, 0.45 goals per game, 0.93 points per game, 307 shots on net (career-high), 90 hits, and 35 blocks through 71 games – the 32-year old still has three-years and $21 million left on his current contract. Now entering the later stages of his career, it makes perfect sense as to why the Golden Knights would consider moving on from him and his expensive salary.
For a player of his stature – a six-time 30-goal scorer, one-time All-Star, and the 2011-12 Bill Masterton Trophy winner – the 6-foot-2 forward would definitely have plenty of knowledge to offer to a hungry young team like Detroit. That being said, the former first-round selection is mainly focused on returning to the playoffs for the third straight season, which is something he probably wouldn’t be able to accomplish in the Motor City.
Without question, the Red Wings appear to be a perfect fit for Pacioretty, especially since he could serve as a much-needed veteran presence while producing effectively at the same time. But since his deal includes a 10-team no-trade list, there’s a very strong chance he’d refuse to waive his clause if Yzerman attempted to bring him back to the Eastern Conference.
Along with the veteran winger’s desires to remain on a playoff contender, it’s also possible the Golden Knights wouldn’t be on board with sending a haul of future assets along with him, especially since they’ve already traded away their own third, fourth, and fifth-round picks in next summer’s draft. While that’s understandable, it’d likely be virtually impossible to convince the Red Wings to take on the former Canadien’s entire salary without receiving any future draft selections in return, which is another sign this potential trade probably isn’t happening.
Unless something drastically changes from now to mid-January, it seems Pacioretty will probably open next season in Las Vegas, but it’s still possible he could be moved before the trade deadline. Expanding on this even further, with the salary cap expected to remain at its current figure over the next few seasons, there’s a very good chance the left-hander will finish his current contract with a different organization.