Analyzing the immediate impact of Max Pacioretty-Tomas Tatar trade
After months of trade rumours and speculation, the Montreal Canadiens finally traded Max Pacioretty, sending him to the Vegas Golden Knights in exchange for Tomas Tatar, prospect Nick Suzuki, and a 2019 second-round draft pick that previously belonged to the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The Athletic’s Corey Pronman placed Suzuki as the Golden Knights’ fourth-best prospect in a system he ranked eighth in the NHL, so the 100-point centre from the OHL’s Owen Sound Attack is a big piece, and a second round mystery box is always a bonus, but the return on the trade that will have an immediate impact is Tomas Tatar.
Tatar, like Pacioretty, is coming off a bad season, but is a better player than he’s currently recognized as around the NHL. Considering the data is ready to go at left wing for the positional rankings project I do every summer (check out last season’s for a detailed explanation), we can compare Pacioretty and Tatar directly in overall impact.
The players are compared against each other in two ways here. With simple percentiles we can see how they rank against the rest of the NHL at their position over the past three seasons, showing the percentage of left wingers they’re superior to in each category. The other comparison is in their relative peak impact, where we can see how they compare to the top left wingers in the league in each category as a percentage of total impact on play.
Both Tatar and Pacioretty have played first line minutes over the past three seasons for bad teams, though the Canadiens did have one good season in the middle of two stinkers. Pacioretty has played the minutes of a franchise-level left winger, while Tatar has been a solid first liner.
Tatar compares quite well to Pacioretty both in transition and on defence, ranking slightly ahead of Pacioretty in transition due to the former Hab being a below average passer and failing on an especially high number of passes last season. Despite poor 2017-18 campaigns from both of them, they remain first line capable defensive and transition forwards.
The separation begins on offence, where Tatar rates as a decent second-line forward, but Pacioretty remains an upper tier first-liner. He’s nearly in the 89th percentile on offence despite a horrible season where nothing went right for him.
Both players should be expected to rebound this year, as they suffered from horrid on-ice percentages that made their production look poorer than the underlying numbers would suggest.
But Pacioretty has a much higher ceiling.