Patch. Pacman. Max Pac. Whatever you want to call him, Max Pacioretty is the hot topic today as the Habs announced the 19 year old winger has signed a three-year entry level deal (financial terms not disclosed), effectively ending his college career. The move comes as a bit of a surprise-both Pacioretty and director of player recruitment and development Trevor Timmins were talking as if Patch was heading back for his sophomore year at Michigan, where he would assume a larger role on the team seeing as his two linemates from Michigan's top line were moving on.
So Pacman is under contract for the next three years, and while most expected the 6'2, 203 pound Conneticut boy to crack the Habs line-up in 09-10, Habs fans could be seeing Pacioretty a lot earlier. Pacioretty is now expected to play in Hamilton, most probably on the first line with Ben Maxwell and Matt D'Agostini, but we'll see how that one plays out.
The real question is, could we see Pacioretty in the Bleu-Blanc-Rouge not of Hamilton...but of Montreal?
Let's think rationally for a second-the guy is fresh out of college, has never played a pro game, and is only 19. Remind you of anyone?
Besides the college part, it reminds me a lot of Guillaume Latendresse (he came up from the Q, not the NCAA). Granted, Pacioretty seems much more developped at this age than Lats did, mostly because Michigan is a fine hockey school and develops their players well. But we don't want to make the same mistake twice, do we?
Then again, could it be worth the risk? Sergei Kostitsyn, anyone? Spent some time in Hamilton, then came up and wowed us with his speed, playmaking ability, and gritty, never back down toughness. Who says Patch can't do the same? In a perfect world, Pacioretty would come to camp, strut his stuff in training camp, get sent down to Hamilton, play a full pro season there, then come up the year after as a 20-year old rookie, put up 80 points and win the Calder Trophy. OK, so I got a bit ahead of myself there. My point is, its not a perfect world. Guys get injured. Guys go into slumps. So a top 6 foward goes down (god-forbid), who you gonna call? PACMAN! And what happens if he plays great? You surely can't send him down if he does what Sergei did last year, or better.
As far-fetched as it all sounds, its a possibility. Only time will tell, but Max Pacioretty has given us another reason to get excited in Habs town, for the present, and the future.