Jean-Gabriel Pageau’s importance to the New York Islanders

Jean-Gabriel Pageau

Jean-Gabriel Pageau was traded to the New York Islanders at the 2020 NHL Trade Deadline. Ottawa traded Pageau for a 2020 first-round pick, a 2020 second-round pick, and a conditional 2022 third-round pick. There is top-three protection on the first-round pick, which reduced the risk in this trade. The Ottawa Senators receive the 2022 third-round pick if the Islanders win the 2020 Stanley Cup. Pageau was a career bottom-six player with the Senators until he broke out this season and scored 40 points in 60 games. But Pageau is known not just for his offensive production but also his stellar defensive play.

Pageau has been disappointing in his seven games with the Islanders, though, tallying only two points. The Canadian didn’t post good defensive numbers either, and the opposition out-chanced him on the ice. This has to worry the Islanders, as he played his best before the Trade Deadline with the Senators. The Islanders signed Pageau to a six-year, $30 million deal which comes with a no-movement clause as well. If Pageau doesn’t turn out, this could turn into another bad contract on a team that already has Andrew Ladd and Johnny Boychuk.

However, Pageau’s production in Ottawa is very encouraging for the Islanders. Defensive abilities are much more consistent, and a player doesn’t just have a good defensive impact for one season. Pageau will be an effective player for the Islanders and will help them in the upcoming play-in round against the Florida Panthers.

Pageau’s Role with the Islanders

In Pageau’s seven games with the Islanders, he played as their third-line center. He was a great compliment to Mathew Barzal and Brock Nelson. Although Pageau didn’t play on the Islanders’ power play, he did play a lot on the penalty kill once he got there. The penalty kill wasn’t great when Pageau was on the ice, and he had the worst xGA/60 (expected goals against per 60) on the team.

Jean-Gabriel Pageau is strongest at five on five and played a very defensive role for the Islanders. He had the most defensive zone starts per 60 on the Islanders, lowering his play driving impact. This shows that the Islanders trust him in their d-zone. Pageau was also getting incredibly unlucky, as his PDO was 0.885 with the Islanders.

The fact that Pageau can play both centre and wing makes him valuable to the Islanders. If the young Otto Koivula can play his way into the Islanders top-nine, Pageau can easily be moved to the wing. However, this is unlikely the Islanders’ top prospects are wingers and defencemen. Pageau can also play an agitating role for the Islanders. The Ottawa native had 4.41 penalty minutes per 60 with the Islanders.

Pageau over the 2019-20 season

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This chart shows why Pageau was so coveted at the trade deadline, and how Ottawa received so much. Pageau had a breakout season offensively with the Senators and produced quantity and quality while on the ice. While his defensive impact doesn’t look impressive, he played a staggering 45 percent of his ice time against elite competition. Pageau didn’t start a lot of shifts in the offensive zone, making his offensive production even more impressive. Pageau was on pace to score 55 points in a full season with Ottawa, which would’ve led the rebuilding Senators. It made sense to trade Pageau, as he was one of the lone bright spots in Ottawa.

Pageau is a worthy transition player as well and was great at exiting the puck out of the zone this season. While he wasn’t great at creating zone entries, it’s tough to do that against the elite competition he faces. Although Pageau is a smaller forward, he has made a name for himself throughout this season.

Jean-Gabriel Pageau in the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs

While the Islanders have only played one game in the playoffs, Pageau showed his solid two-way impact in that game. He opened the scoring against the Panthers and was able to limit quality chances against while on the ice. The Islanders will need Pageau to supply that depth scoring consistently throughout the playoffs if they want to make a deep run.

In Game One, the Islanders played Pageau on the third line with Tom Kuhnhackl and Derick Brassard. Neither of these players are good play-drivers, and the Islanders rely on Pageau to anchor them. Pageau was able to do that, and earned first star of Game One against the Panthers. It’s expected the Islanders will continue with these lines and thus will continue to rely on Pageau as a pivotal piece in their bottom six.

Jean-Gabriel Pageau was a great addition to the Islanders, and they will continue to reap the benefits of his stellar defensive play. Pageau is a reliable centre who can play against the toughest competition. This will be important in defending the offensive talent in the Metropolitan division. The Islanders made a great decision in extending Pageau, as he will become a solid veteran presence who plays well on both sides of the ice.

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