Despite recent national reports, multiple sources at different levels of the Pittsburgh Penguins organization have confirmed to Pittsburgh Hockey Now the Penguins are not in serious talks to acquire Montreal Canadiens left wing and captain Max Pacioretty.
The sources conceded the Penguins did make contact with Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin about Pacioretty. The Canadiens ask for Pacioretty was too rich for Penguins General Manager Jim Rutherford and the talks did not gain traction or advance past preliminary stages. One phone call could change the situation but a source connected to the Penguins front office expressed pessimism about talks escalating to serious discussions.
Last season, Pacioretty, 29, had his lowest full-season offensive totals since 2010. Pacioretty had 37 points (17g, 20a) in 64 games. He will be a free agent next summer. Recent opinions in the Montreal Gazette and other Montreal media outlets have advocated re-signing the Canadiens captain. However, top defenseman Shea Weber’s recent knee surgery will keep Weber out until December, which will significantly hurt the Canadiens chances to compete for a playoff spot this season.
The Canadiens could find it advantageous to deal Pacioretty to accelerate a rebuild, however, Bergevin has publicly bristled at the idea of rebuilding.
Last week, the Penguins are believed to have been one of the teams which showed interest in free agent winger Anthony Duclair, who signed a one-year deal with Columbus. The Penguins also reportedly inquired about Carolina Hurricanes left wing Jeff Skinner before the NHL Draft in Dallas last month. Instead, Carolina made a major deal was to acquire defenseman Dougie Hamilton, not deal away Skinner.
With the free agent market mostly picked over, the Penguins appear to be patiently waiting for a good deal rather than aggressively shopping. The team has just over $2.8 million of salary cap space and a pending arbitration hearing with defenseman Jamie Oleksiak. A deal or arbitration award could consume most of that cap space, so any deal the Penguins make will likely require trading away equal salary to any player they acquire.