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Morning Flurries: Avalanche fall to Anaheim and Max Pacioretty heads west

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Montreal Canadiens v New Jersey Devils Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The Colorado Avalanche hoped to turn things around in their second game of the Rookie Faceoff in Las Vegas this weekend, aiming to eke out a win following their dropped 7-6 decision against the Vegas Golden Knights on the first day.

Unfortunately, their comeback efforts from the Vegas game failed to show up for a second game, leaving Colorado skating away from a contest against the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday with a mere 5-2 decision - better looking than the seven goals scored on Saturday, but without the desperate, dynamic offense they boasted in the latter parts of their Saturday game.

It was a good night for Finnish goaltender Justus Annunen, who boasted his first start of the tournament and put up 32 saves when all was said and done. And both Matthew Boucher and Brandon Saigeon managed to pot goals, scoring just 74 seconds apart during a goal-heavy second period to keep the team deep in the game far better than they had the day prior.

Despite the pair of goals and solid goaltending, though, a pair of goals to even things up and pull ahead in the latter minutes of the second period left Colorado trailing, once again, for the majority of the game. And with one extra goal scored against Annunen to pull the lead up to two halfway through the third period, Anaheim coasted to their win, sealing things off with an empty-netter in the final minutes.

Saigeon’s goal, though, sure was fun to look at:

It was the first day of Sunday NFL, so the NHL took a clear backseat... that is, until Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin stuck it firmly to the Montreal media by dealing captain Max Pacioretty just after one o’clock in the morning Eastern time.

The Canadiens already dealt away one of their top goal-scorers earlier this summer, moving Alex Galchenyuk in a direct swap for playmaker (but sporadic goal-scorer at best) Max Domi to give both players something of a fresh start.

Here is the trade, in all its glory:

As some Twitter user without an actual photo felt was necessary to point out to me, the trade also technically happened at just 10pm Las Vegas time, as if that’s a much more reasonable hour to be making blockbuster moves on a Sunday night.

In any case, there’s a lot to break down here.

Heading to Vegas, obviously, is Max Pacioretty.

He’ll leave as the captain of the Montreal Canadiens and one of their best pure goal scorers, but it was starting to seem inevitable that he was on his way out. Despite multiple reports that he badly wanted to stay in Montreal, his agent had started to push some stories that the team had zero intention of keeping him on board:

Pacioretty had just signed with Walsh as an agent right before he became eligible for an extension, and it seems that the mercurial representative did what he does best: got his client a good deal that served his needs and got him moved as quickly as possible.

As a few people pointed out on social media, the value for Pacioretty is always high; he’s generally good for well over 30 goals in a healthy season, and even his ‘poor’ year last year saw him put up 17 goals. The Canadiens ruined what significant leverage they had by not dealing him in-season last year, though, and instead waiting until the league knew a new extension wasn’t likely getting done.

Despite that, the return isn’t half bad. A 2019 second round pick, originally belonging to the Columbus Blue Jackets, could yield a decent player - especially if the Artemi Panarin situation in Columbus continues to fester. Tomas Tatar is also a decent, consistent 20-goal player, and at 27 he’s still firmly in his prime.

Nick Suzuki could very well be the gem of the deal, as he’s expected to be a bona fide prospect that blossoms into an NHLer sooner rather than later.

He’s clearly a move for the future, though, and Tatar’s 20 goals hardly combine with Max Domi’s five goals from last year to make up for the potential 60 to 70 combined goals that Pacioretty and Galchenyuk have shown to be capable of. At the very least, Montreal will be a low-scoring team, which puts tremendous pressure on Carey Price to bounce back and carry the team into a good season’s showing.

For a more well-thought out analysis, check out this piece from Habs Eye On The Prize.

Anyways. I was going to give you all more, but really, this is all we need. Happy Monday!