Dec 20, 2013; New York, NY, USA; New York Islanders right wing Cal Clutterbuck (15) scores a goal against New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist (30) during the first period at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Top Shelf - Islanders Daily 12/23/13

Dec 21, 2013; Nashville, TN, USA; Montreal Canadiens left wing Max Pacioretty (67) shoots against the Nashville Predators during the second period at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Islanders found themselves on the rumor mill again on Sunday afternoon, as reports suggested that Long Island’s hockey team is in heavy pursuit of Montreal Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty.

The 25-year old winger was described as not “Michel Therien’s (Montreal’s head coach) ideal,” which is a shock considering Pacioretty’s importance to the team during his tenure with Les Habitants. The 22nd-overall choice in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, Pacioretty has 15 goals in 29 games this season, matching his total from last season (44 games) and putting him on pace to shatter his career-high mark of 33 goals (2011-12). The numbers for Pacioretty, a Connecticut-native, are impressive, but would a move for the Canadiens winger help the Islanders?

Yes, actually. If a deal for Pacioretty did go down, many would criticize the team for failing to address the team’s immediate needs on the defense; however, offense is also an immediate need for this swooning hockey team. The Islanders were expected to boast one of the league’s top offenses before this season began, but at the moment, the Islanders are sitting in the bottom-third of the league (21st in the NHL with 93 goals).

With secondary scoring almost non-existent this season, the Islanders need a new plan for their offensive structure. Pacioretty is currently signed at a club-friendly $4.5 million per season through 2018-19, which would mean a guaranteed longer-term investment than Thomas Vanek, whose contract expires at the end of the season.

Stay tuned.

In case you missed it:

Islanders GIFs of the week. (EOI)

It was a week of firsts for the Islanders. Our own Joe Powers explains. (EOI)

An Isles wishlist. (Islanders Op-Timism)

Isles, Flyers pursuing Pacioretty. (CBSSports.com)

Around the NHL:

New York Rangers, 4, Minnesota Wild 1: NYR (Pouliot, Hagelin, Zuccarello, Kreider), MIN (Pominville) – Cam Talbot made the start in place of the struggling Henrik Lundqvist, stopping 24 of the 25 shots he faced to lead the Rangers to victory.

Vancouver Canucks 2, Winnipeg Jets 1: VAN (Richardson, Tanev), WPG (Kane) – Roberto Luongo left the game with a lower-body inury in the first period, but the flu-ridden Eddie Lack made 15 saves in relief to give the Canucks the victory.

Across the Sound:

The Bridgeport Sound Tigers defeated the Albany Devils by the final score of 4-3. Kenny Reiter madder 12 saves for the win. Dallas Jackson scored the game-winning goal with 1:33 left to play. John Persson, Alan Quine and Mike Halmo also score for the Islanders AHL-affiliate.

-CT

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