Earlier today, the New York Islanders traded for forward J.G. Pageau in exchange for a conditional 2020 first-round pick, 2020 second-round pick and a conditional 2022 third-round pick.
The real prize was what came after the trade, when general manager Lou Lamoriello inked Pageau to a six year, $30 million extension with an AAV of $5M. Initial reactions were mixed, some fans excited, others concerned with the cap for our future, seeing as Mathew Barzal, Ryan Pulock, and Devon Toews are restricted free agents this summer. However, on a conference call with the media post trade dealine today, Lamoriello addressed the concern, nixing the idea all three RFAs wouldn’t return next season.
#Isles Lou Lamoriello absolutely believes team has enough salary cap flexibility to get its RFAs signed this summer and says he has every intention of doing so.
— Andrew Gross (@AGrossNewsday) February 24, 2020
The Islanders center depth is now solidified for years to come, something the team has lacked all season with the departure of Valtteri Filppula in the offseason.
Derick Brassard was signed in order to fill the void, however he has found more success on the wing, rather than at the center position. The club’s third-line has been interchangeable all year long, and with the arrival of Pageau, that line will finally have an identity. Rookie Kieffer Bellows was returned to Bridgeport this afternoon while veteran Andrew Ladd and other rookie, Otto Koivula, will be with the Islanders for the remainder of the season.
Andrew Ladd was rumored to be in a trade with the Minnesota Wild that would seemingly have brought forward Zach Parise back the other way. Although both players waived their no-movement clauses, the contracts were to difficult to figure out before the 3 PM deadline.
With Ladd now healthy and in the lineup, it’s likely he’ll ride shotgun to Pageau’s wing on the third line. The question remains: who will play on the right side? Brassard might be an option with his success in that slot earlier this year.
The acquisition of Pageau brings depth to an Isles team who has been searching for the consistency since the first game of the 2019-20 season. He already steps in as the team’s leading goal scorer with 24 goals and as one of the better face-off men on the roster, two things the Isles lacked in both categories.
In addition to the offensive upside, Pageau is a defensively-sound forward who knows how to play on both ends of the ice. He’ll not only be able to provide offense at five-on-five or the power play, but also has the ability to help keep the puck out of the Isles defensive end; he is top five in the league among forwards in blocked passes, puck recoveries, and puck battles won.
Pageau already expressed his excitement to join the Islanders in a series of tweets thanking his former team, the Ottawa Senators, and following that up with this tweet:
On my way @NYIslanders . I am so pumped. Can’t wait to meet my teammates tomorrow morning . Let’s gooooo pic.twitter.com/wFaPJC6wjE
— Jean-Gabriel Pageau (@JGPageau) February 24, 2020
Among other positive comments made, Pageau appears very excited for the next chapter in his NHL career and with the Islanders.
In terms of what Lamoriello gave up to make this trade happen, they’re just draft picks. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t. And when you look up and down the Islanders roster, including those in Bridgeport, you will see picks that did and did not work out.
The Islanders needed a difference maker and they needed one now, not two to three years down the road. Pageau fit the bill for the Islanders needs, and he’ll be a serviceable third-line center for years to come.
.@JGPageau is the definition of the pro’s pro cliche.
-Elevates in the playoffs
-Great with fans and media
All the best with the Islanders.
— Steve Lloyd (@TSNSteveLloyd) February 24, 2020
Pageau has shown he can rise to the occasion too. He’s come up clutch in games this year for the Senators. However, his most memorable moment was back in the 2016-17 Stanley Cup Playoffs, when in game two of the series against the New York Rangers, he rallied the Senators with four straight goals to complete the come from behind win, putting Ottawa up 2-0 in that series.
That time Pageau scored 4 goals in a playoff game against Rags #isles https://t.co/lxCb8sgOX6
— YESUV🚙 (@IslesWhiteSUV) February 24, 2020
The elevated play in the playoffs will work dividends for the Islanders, as they anticipate to not only get there but make a deep run. He will add value to the team not only on the ice, but off the ice as well with his leadership.
In an interview with NHL.com, Senators coach D.J. Smith said “He’s played great for the organization, given his heart and soul, but it’s also a business and it came down to the last little bit here…” It’s apparent he was valued by his coaches and teammates in and out of the locker room.
The Islanders finally gained an asset at the trade deadline that will help them now and in the future.
Pageau is at the ripe age of 27, and will likely center the third line for the Islanders for the duration of his contract. He’s expected to make his NHL debut tomorrow night against the Rangers, wearing number 44.