LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Max Pacioretty has been an NHL player long enough to know what’s needed from him.
His new team, the Carolina Hurricanes, snatched him from the Golden Knights on Wednesday for his goal-scoring, particularly his wrist shot that’s a mix of laser speed and William Tell accuracy.
“My job is to put the puck in the net,” Pacioretty said in a virtual interview with members of the Carolina media on Thursday and posted to nhl.com. “I’ve done a really good job of that over my career. But as you get older, as teams get better, as goalies get better, as you go further through playoffs, that gets harder and harder to do.”
The Hurricanes missed clutch goal-scoring, an extra offensive punch, coach Rod Brind’Amour said after his team was ousted from the Stanley Cup playoffs by the New York Rangers in seven games.
That’s why the Canes on Wednesday beefed up on offense, bringing in Pacioretty and highly-skilled defenseman Brent Burns, the 2017 Norris Trophy winner, in a deal with the San Jose Sharks.
Both are older, but Pacioretty said the two can offer depth, experience and, hopefully, just the right touch of scoring Brind’Amour believes is needed.
Pacioretty said he’s worked harder at his craft as he’s gotten older. He’s tried to be in better shape and smarter on the ice. He said that’s especially important in the postseason.
“They want someone to come in and help them put the puck in the net,” said the left wing who boasts six seasons of 30 or more goals, including 32 in 2019-20 with the Knights. “It’s so important in the playoffs that you have depth … The teams that win the Cup, you see they roll over four lines.”
The Knights shipped out Pacioretty primarily because of salary cap issues; he’s got one season left on a deal that pays him $7 million a year. But he’s also battled injuries; he’s been limited to 48 games and 39 games the past two regular seasons.
The Golden Knights were hit hard by injuries last year, he said, calling it a “weird” season for himself and many of his teammates. But he’s fully recovered from a broken foot, a bone injury to a hand and a nagging core issue.
“I hope that’s in my past. I’ve done everything I can to move on from that,” he said. “But as a group, we had a lot of tough luck last year. A lot of goofy or fluky injuries, and mine were no different from the rest of the guys in that sense.”
He and Burns had a history of on-ice altercations during the Knights-Sharks rivalry — “a lot of animosity” — but Pacioretty said he spoke with Burns on Wednesday night, and that’s not going to be an issue.
Ex-Knights coach Pete DeBoer and his assistant, Steve Spott, coached Burns in San Jose for several years. They told Pacioretty, “you’re going to love this guy.”
The way Pacioretty figures, he’s going from one good team to another.
“This team is so close,” he said of the Hurricanes. “Any way I can contribute … I’ll do whatever it takes.”