The 2023 UFA class is a bit underwhelming compared to previous years, but that doesn't mean there aren't intriguing veteran names for teams to consider. Among those that could fill a scoring need for the New York Islanders is 34-year-old forward Max Pacioretty.
The New Canaan, CT native is coming off a nightmare of a 2022-23 season (if you can call it that). After being acquired in July by the Carolina Hurricanes from the Vegas Golden Knights with one year left on his contract, Pacioretty suffered a torn Achilles tendon during an off-season workout, forcing him to miss the first several months of the start of the season.
He finally made his season and Carolina debut on Jan. 5 and scored twice in his second game. However, in his fifth game of the season, he re-ruptured his Achilles on Jan. 19 vs. the Minnesota Wild, ending his season. Frank Seravelli of Daily Faceoff reported on Friday that the Canes were allowing Pacioretty to speak with other teams ahead of the start of free agency - and apparently, there is significant interest. Among the rumored suitors are his former team, the Montreal Canadiens, along with the Colorado Avalanche and Edmonton Oilers.
Pacioretty was acquired for "future considerations" from Vegas last season, and it was among the moves Islanders fans criticized GM Lou Lamoriello for not making during the team's quiet summer. Last year, Lamoriello was unable to address the forward group during free agency. This year, his immediate focus appears to be on bringing back Pierre Engvall and hoping Zach Parise decides to return one more time at the league minimum. If neither of those things happens, a team already in search of offense should be willing to take a close look at adding Pacioretty at a modest cost.
The injury concern here can't be ignored. It's quite possible, if not likely that Pacioretty will not be ready to start the season as he works his way through therapy and treatment. At the same time, he has proven himself to be a top-six forward, one that can finish when paired with skilled playmakers.
That inability to finish has haunted the Islanders in recent seasons and is among the reasons for their extended offensive droughts and struggling power play. That type of skill would be welcomed at any point of the season.