The Vegas Golden Knights acquired left wing Max Pacioretty from the Montreal Canadiens on Monday, immediately boosting his fantasy value. Pacioretty, 29, joins the top 75 overall fantasy rankings by NHL.com and strengthens his bounce-back candidacy after finishing 173rd in Yahoo last season.
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Pacioretty is tied with Jamie Benn (Dallas Stars) for third among left wings in even-strength goals (112) over the past five seasons behind Brad Marchand (118; Boston Bruins) and Alex Ovechkin (134; Washington Capitals). Pacioretty led the Canadiens in goals (226), shots on goal (2047) and power-play goals (55) since entering the NHL in 2008-09. He has at least 30 goals in five of the past six full NHL seasons. Pacioretty was limited to 64 games because of injury last season and dipped in goals (17; 35 in 2016-17) and points (37; 67 in 2016-17) but has renewed potential after the trade. It's worth noting that Pacioretty signed a four-year contract extension with the Golden Knights.
During the past five seasons, the most productive center on Pacioretty's line was Tomas Plekanec in 2015-16 (54 points). Statistically speaking, Pacioretty will be playing with the best center of his career in either William Karlsson (78 points in 2017-18) or Paul Stastny (53 points in 2017-18; 60 points in 2013-14). Regardless of potential even-strength line combinations, Pacioretty joins the Golden Knights, who scored the fifth-most goals in the NHL last season (268; significantly more than Montreal's 207) and made the Stanley Cup Final.
The trade also boosts the value of the Golden Knights' top six in general. If Pacioretty plays with Karlsson, it helps the value of Stastny, who would play with Jonathan Marchessault (75 points in 77 games last season). Another player that gains value from the trade is right wing Alex Tuch, who can provide sneaky upside in later rounds. Tuch had 37 points (15 goals, 22 assists) in 78 regular-season games and 10 points (six goals, four assists) in 20 Stanley Cup Playoff games. Tuch, after the offseason departure of wings James Neal and David Perron, has solidified his role playing right wing on the second line, which should now feature one of Pacioretty or Marchessault.
For the Canadiens, the departure of their top-line left wing leaves a spot open next to center Jonathan Drouin. Forward Max Domi, acquired from the Arizona Coyotes on June 15, is the favorite to take on that role. While Domi could see a slight increase in playing time (16:42 last season), he and Drouin are not worth drafting in standard leagues but should be monitored on the waiver wire. Center prospect Nick Suzuki, acquired by the Canadiens in the Pacioretty trade, joins Jesperi Kotkaniemi (No. 3 pick in 2018 NHL Draft) with long-term appeal in fantasy keeper and dynasty leagues.
With the likelihood of better linemates and team security, Pacioretty should be targeted in either the sixth or seventh round of standard 12-team leagues. After the trade, Pacioretty is now a top 10 fantasy left wing again, jumping ahead of Marchessault, with added value in leagues that count hits (1.3 per game in NHL career).
Projection: 80 games played, 33 goals, 33 assists, 66 points, 19 PPP, 240 SOG
Draft range in 12-team fantasy league: Rounds 6 or 7 (picks 60-72)