Max Pacioretty is a low risk and high reward

Max Pacioretty, Washington Capitals Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports
Max Pacioretty, Washington Capitals Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports /

The Washington Capitals biggest noise this offseason was trade rumors surrounding Evgeny Kuznetsov and Anthony Mantha as well as the signing of Max Pacioretty at the kick off of free agency.

Pacioretty has always been a good player who can put up goals but over the last couple of seasons he’s dealt with injuries. The Caps signed him to a one year, $2 million deal that includes performance bonuses if he stays healthy.

He’s scored 30 goals or more six times in his 15 year NHL career. He won’t be amiable to suit up for the season opener as he continues to get better from a torn achilles. It was the second of two tears that he suffered five months apart.

There is no timeline for Pacioretty’s return just yet but I imagine we’ll learn a lot more come training camp which begins on September 20. He has scored 326 career goals since making his debut in 2008 09. That ranks 22nd in the NHL over that stretch.

He was drafted by the Montreal Canadiens in the first round in 2007. He has since played in 855 games with the Habs, Vegas Golden Knights and Carolina Hurricanes.

Pacioretty was eligible for performance based incentives in his new contract due to spending over 100 days on Long Term Injured Reserve in 2022 23. Any incentives that will be reached will count against the Capitals salary cap in 2024 25.

His first achilles tear happened on the right side during summer training in 2022. He underwent surgery for the repair on Aug. 10. He got traded to the Hurricanes and returned to the ice quicker than expected on Jan. 5, 2023.

Unfortunately, he only played in five games before hurting that same achilles tendon costing him the rest of the season.

Now Pacioretty is 34. He’ll be 35 on Nov. 20. So why did the Caps decide to take a gamble on a veteran that suffered two injuries last year to the same thing?

Say he comes back to the ice just before his birthday. If he stays healthy, he’ll not only get those contract incentives, it could improve the Caps offense. If he can get back to the ice before his birthday, at least a 20-25 goal season would be doable.

Related Story. Washington Capitals News: Prospect injured, Tom Wilson talks hunger and motivation. light

Combine that with the likes of Alex Ovechkin, Tom Wilson and Dylan Strome and you have a better team. That better team turns into elite when you have a healthy T.J. Oshie doing his thing and an Evgeny Kuznetsov that can be more consistent.