Via Jeff Bottari, NHL via Getty Images
It was announced late yesterday night that Hurricanes forward Max Pacioretty will have surgery to repair a torn Achilles. The recovery time is expected to be six months. This is absolutely crushing news to the team, player, and fans who were excited to watch the dynamic winger suit up for the Canes.
Pacioretty was acquired from the Vegas Golden Knights alongside Dylan Coghlan on July 13th, 2022 in exchange for future considerations. Pacioretty was brought in to finally give the Canes an elite goal-scorer in their lineup. Max is a six time 30-goal scorer and despite injuries he has been able to produce at or around a point per game for the last few seasons.
Losing arguably your best goal scorer puts any team in a hard spot, but before he even gets to play a game? That’s just painful. Although having a fresh Pacioretty for the stretch run could be beneficial, the challenge now becomes staying afloat until that point.
Free agent departures Vincent Trocheck and Nino Niederreiter both recorded 20+ goals and the Canes need to find a way to replace that production. Pacioretty was going to be a crucial part of that, and his absence from the lineup makes that an even bigger challenge.
Without Pacioretty, the Hurricanes top-6 will need Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Martin Necas in particular to step up in a big way. Even without Max Pacioretty, the Hurricanes should be able to maintain pace in the Metropolitan division and remain in a playoff spot.
Another option would be to examine the trade and free agent market to temporarily patch the hole in the lineup. Assuming Pacioretty goes on LTIR, the Hurricanes will have roughly $5.8 million in cap space. If the Hurricanes buyout the contract of Jake Gardiner like many expect them to, that number goes up to $8.8 million in space.
The Pacioretty injury obviously makes this line-up weaker, but if some young players are able to step up for the Canes in the time being the blow won’t be nearly as bad. Although his debut is now severely delayed, it will be an exciting time for the franchise once Pacioretty is able to step back onto the ice.