Canadiens trade captain Max Pacioretty to Vegas Golden Knights for two players and a pick

Most people saw the writing on the wall and knew a divorce between Max Pacioretty and the Montreal Canadiens was coming. They probably didn't expect the paperwork to be filed at 1 a.m. on a Monday morning, though. 

In the wee hours of the morning, the Canadiens announced that they had traded their captain to the Vegas Golden Knights in exchange for Tomas Tatar, Nick Suzuki and a second-round pick in 2019. 

The reigning Western Conference champion Golden Knights will get a proven offensive talent in the 29-year-old Pacioretty, who is heading into the final year of his current contract. He's a five-time 30-goal scorer, including a career-high 39-goal campaign in 2013-2014. Over the last seven years, only two players (Alex Ovechkin and John Tavares) have scored more even strength goals than Pacioretty. 

His presence will bolster the Golden Knights attack up front and help fill the gap on the wing that James Neal left behind when he departed for the Calgary Flames in free agency earlier this summer.

As for the Canadiens, they get a very promising prospect in the 19-year-old Suzuki, who was taken with the 13th overall pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. Though a bit undersized, Suzuki is an exciting and skilled playmaking forward. The Canadiens also get Tatar, who was a bit of a dud for the Golden Knights after they acquired him at last year's trade deadline. But the 27-year-old veteran forward is three-time 20-goal scorer and could have a shot at rediscovering success in Montreal.

This deal brings a relatively unceremonious end to Pacioretty's tenure in Montreal, which began when the Habs drafted him in the first round of the 2007 NHL Draft. He spent the last 10 seasons with the club and became a fan favorite due to his production and leadership qualities on and off the ice. In 2015, the American winger was named the the 29th captain in Canadiens history.

But the relationship between the two sides went south in a hurry, especially over the course of the past year. After four straight 60-plus point seasons, Pacioretty struggled to produce for a bitterly disappointing Habs team last season, recording just 37 points in 64 games. 

As he neared the final year of his contract in 2018-2019, there were rumors that the Canadiens would consider moving Pacioretty. According to reports, he was nearly traded to the Los Angeles Kings at this year's NHL Draft, but that trade reportedly fell through because Pacioretty couldn't agree to an extension with the Kings.

Paciorretty switched agents shortly after that reported trade crumbled but maintained that he was still willing to sign an extension with the Canadiens. His new agent eventually levied accusations against the Habs, saying that the club was planting false stories in the media to make it seem like his client was the reason that a deal hadn't gotten done. 

Last week, Pacioretty made it known that he wouldn't negotiate a contract extension during the regular season. That meant the Canadiens would either have to quickly come to an agreement on an extension with Pacioretty's camp, or they'd have to pull the trigger on a trade if they didn't want to risk losing him for nothing in free agency. 

Less than a week later, Pacioretty is heading to the desert to suit up for the Golden Knights for at least one season. 

Pete Blackburn is from Boston, so there's a good chance you don't like him already. He has been a writer at CBS Sports since 2017 and usually aims to take a humorous and light-hearted approach to the often... Full Bio

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