When Islanders’ general manager Lou Lamoriello made the trade for J.G. Pageau at the trade deadline, it was a mixed bag of emotions to all in the world of hockey.
Pageau was Long Island bound, while the Ottawa Senators received a conditional 2020 first-round pick, a 2020 second-round pick, and a conditional 2022 third-round pick. Lamoriello quickly extended the Isles’ new center to a six-year, $30 million extension through 2025-26.
“Certainly the addition today is a player that fits right in as far as who we are, the way we play, and the style we play,”Lamoriello said. “I don’t think there will be much of an adjustment period for him. We certainly watched him enough, played against him, our coaches know him. Without question we feel there were holes that we were able to fill with players that wouldn’t take any period of time to adjust.”
The organization was certainly happy with their new center, and Pageau was happy to be an Islander. But, there was a lot of noise that the Islanders overpaid for the 27-year-old forward.
— Jean-Gabriel Pageau (@JGPageau) February 24, 2020
“The cost to acquire Jean-Gabriel Pageau was sky-high, but there’s no doubt he fills a big hole for this team as a sound third-line center.” (from ‘2020 Trade Deadline aftermath: Sizing up the Stanley Cup race,’ TheAthletic, 02/26/2020)
At the time, Pageau was seen as a guy who just “fills a need” for the Islanders, but fast forward to where the Islanders are now, and it’s evident that he’s been much more than that.
For starters, let’s take a look at where some of those trade deadline acquisitions are now:
Vincent Trocheck & Brady Skjei to the Hurricanes – Eliminated.
Ilya Kovalchuk to the Capitals – Eliminated.
Jason Zucker to the Penguins – Eliminated.
Blake Coleman to the Tampa Bay Lightning – 13 GP, 3 goals, 4 assists.
Alec Martinez to the Vegas Golden Knights – 12 GP. 1 goal, 6 assists.
Most of the impact players acquired at the deadline have already been eliminated. Martinez and Coleman are having strong postseasons for their respective clubs, but neither may be making as big an impact as Pageau has for the Islanders in the bubble thus far.
“We identified Pager early on in the process and had many discussions with Lou and he did with our scouting staff,” Trotz said Monday from Toronto. “When it came down to the trade deadline, Lou said this is the type of player we want in our organization, we got an opportunity to get him and he went and got him, which has been a really good fit for us. It gives us that strength down the middle for the next few years, for sure.”
Even before he wore an Islander sweater, Pageau was known to step it up in the playoffs. That trend has continued this postseason; he’s scored seven goals and added a pair of assists, putting him at the top of the list in points for players acquired at the deadline.
When you dig deeper though, you’ll find that the newest Islanders contribution goes deeper than the points he’s accrued thus far.
The Islanders are going for the sweep and J.G. Pageau got them on the board early 😤
— SNY (@SNYtv) August 19, 2020
Pageau has a knack for finding success in the faceoff dot. In 13 games so far, Pageau has a 55% faceoff win percentage, a need the Islanders surely lacked before his acquisition. The ability to win faceoffs gives the Isles a large boost in puck control, especially in the offensive zone not having to worry about regaining entry.
He’s also not afraid to throw the body. Pageau has accrued a total of 37 hits thus far. In comparison to the usual team leader in hits, Matt Martin who has 49 hits thus far, Pageau finds himself not far behind as one of the Islanders most physical players on the ice. Just look at how he stepped up against a much larger Brian Boyle.
J.G. Pageau 😂😂😂 pic.twitter.com/hJTZpzF2Vx
— Rob Taub (@RTaub_) August 4, 2020
You need more to prove Pageau’s worth? The centerman slots in on both the Islanders power-play and penalty-kill. A true swiss army knife, he has helped boost special teams as a whole.
As for the Islanders 5-on-5 play, they’ve never been better. Pageau has a little something to do with that, as his seven goals this postseason all come at even strength, and is tied for the team lead in goals with the scorching hot Anthony Beauvillier.
Perhaps one of the best things about Pageau though, is what he has brought to the Islanders off the ice. He has been a true teammate since the second he has an Islander, keeping the guys in the locker room loose and light.
We all saw his entrance to the ping pong tournament he won. Keeping the guys entertained and smiling in the bubble is a trait that not many teammates have, and no doubt contributes to why this group of players are so tightly knit.
When the Islanders acquired Pageau at the deadline, he wasn’t the best player available on the market. However, he was the right player available for the Islanders. He’s seamlessly fit into the Islanders system, the Barry Trotz system, the “boring” system, and it’s paying dividends, as the Islanders are one win away from the Eastern Conference Finals, somewhere they haven’t been since 1993.
Say it with me. J.G. Pageau has been Worth. Every. Penny.