It appears that the Washington Capitals will be without free agent signee Max Pacioretty for at least the first month of the regular season.
But after that? Who knows.
“I’m not sure of the exact timeline,” Capitals head coach Spencer Carbery told NHL.com. “I don’t think he’ll be ready for the start of the regular season. But whether it’s in the November timeframe or December, whenever he’s healthy and ready to go, I think it gives us a great asset in Max to be able to, partway into the season, potentially give us a real jolt offensively in our top six, someone who can help us on the power play, someone who has proven time and time again that they can find ways to score, which is something that is coveted around the league.”
Handcuffed by the salary cap, general manager Brian MacLellan took a gamble on Pacioretty, who has suffered two torn Achilles tendons since the summer of 2022. His one-year contract is incentivized by games played, with Pacioretty set to earn a total of $4 million if he plays in 20 games next season.
“At the end of the day, I just thought that Washington was a great opportunity for me to come back and prove that I’m still the player that I once was and I’m capable of coming back and scoring goals,” Pacioretty said in July.
If he can return to form, the 34-year-old Pacioretty could become one of the most important players to a Capitals roster looking to return to the playoffs. Pacioretty has reached the 30-goal plateau six times during his NHL career — a total that would have ranked him second in scoring on last year’s Capitals team.
But, having played in 44 games over the past two seasons and nearing his mid-30s, it’s not a question of when, but if he can fully bounce back.
“I’m doing really well, I’m very comfortable with where I’m at right now,” Pacioretty said in July. “I don’t think I’ll be ready for the start of this season, but it shouldn’t be too long after that when I’m expected to come back and play. I’m going to leave that up to the doctors and obviously the experts when it comes to that.”