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NHL Montreal Canadiens

Montreal Canadiens: How High Can Max Pacioretty’s Game Go?

Max Pacioretty

Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

The Montreal Canadiens were one of the more dangerous offensive teams in the league in 2013, at least in the regular season. Ranking in the top five in goals per game, a heavy amount of their improvement from one of the Eastern Conference’s worst to one of its best can be attributed to the play of Max Pacioretty.

Pacioretty was coming off of something of a breakout season in the 2011-12 year. He posted 65 points in 79 games, a solid total after a couple years trying to stick and stay healthy. That included a very impressive 33 goals, which ranked among the best in the league, coming in at 18th.

He built on that season in 2013, finishing with an even higher scoring rate. He finished with 0.88 points per game, a touch higher than his 2011-12 season. He appeared in 44 tilts for the Habs, posting a very impressive 39 points. He didn’t score goals at the same rate, with just 15, but was still valuable in setting up his teammates.

Heading into the first year of a contract extension that will carry a cap hit of $4.5 million, it’s worth wondering just how far his game can go. Is he a player capable of putting up 90 or 100 points? Or is he a guy that will stick around mainly in the 50′s and 60′s, and putting in 20 goals or so a season?

In terms of his goal scoring, that should go back up in the 2013-14 season. He’s a power forward with good size and excellent hands. That type of combination means that he’s going to find the back of the net plenty. He could be a perennial 30-goal scorer, or at least give you 25 on a consistent basis.

In terms of his total point production, it’s tough to see Pacioretty becoming a point-per-game player. He’s a very talented player, but isn’t quite elite. What he is is in that second tier of offensive players in the league. He could put up 70 or so points per year, but don’t expect to see him challenging the century mark any time soon.