Canadiens prospect Max Pacioretty is under the spotlight in Montreal these days - and he hasn't even played a game with the NHL club this season.
The 2007 first-round pick told TSN's sister station in Quebec RDS and local sports radio station the Team 990 this week that if he can't be a top six forward in Montreal, he would rather be one with the team's AHL affiliate in Hamilton this season.
"I just don't see the need, for my development, to play the bottom two lines in the NHL because ultimately I feel I'm going be a top six forward," said Pacioretty. "That's what I want to be. I've experienced the bottom two lines in Montreal and it's obviously not what's going to develop me into the player I want to be."
Pacioretty, who was in town Friday as the Hamilton Bulldogs played the Binghamton Senators at the Bell Centre, also drew comparisons on his development between current head coach Jacques Martin and former head coach Guy Carbonneau.
"I was in the doghouse every time I made a mistake and that's what got me sent down and turned my confidence to the negative side," said Pacioretty of his time with Martin. "When I was first called up with Carbo as the coach, he gave me all the confidence in the world. Put me in situations to succeed and at times I did and if I didn't he didn't punish me. Regained my confidence by him telling me I'm playing well and he'd still give me a fair amount of minutes.
"He did a good job with that and that let me be ready for the next season. But last year I kinda struggled because it was a different situation for me."
Pacioretty played 34 games with the Canadiens under Carbonneau in 2008-2009, scoring three goals and 11 points. In 52 games last season under Martin, he tallied three goals in 14 points.
The former Michigan Wolverine finished the 2009-10 campaign in Hamilton and was an early cut from Canadiens camp this fall. He has three goals and 12 points in 10 games with the Bulldogs this season.
"I've never felt better in my life about my game right now," Pacioretty told Team 990. "They let me play the hockey game I've played my whole life and that's what has made me successful, and that's what's going to make me successful. That's what gives me confidence instead of having a bad shift, getting sat, or maybe going down on the fourth line - I've never felt that that's the way to build me up as a player. That's kinda why last year, as the season went on every day, my confidence went down a little bit. To tell you the truth I think I even got worse at hockey. We're gaining it all back right now, and if not we've made steps much further."