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New York Islanders Centre Is a Potential Buyout Candidate

The New York Islanders are a team that is a little salary cap-strapped at the moment. This means they might have to move one of their core players. The player in question is centre Jean-Gabriel Pageau who was traded to the Islanders on Feb. 24, 2020. He immediately signed a six-year contract with the team after the trade. Now in need of some extra money this offseason, they could be looking to get out from under that contract. With the NHL cap set at $88 million, this gives the Islanders about $6.5 million to work with. While it could be worse they still need a little more to retool the roster into a contender.

What Has Jean-Gabriel Pageau Done as an Islander?

Pageau joined the Islanders in the middle of their playoff push and gave them needed centre depth at the time. He played seven games for them before COVID shut down the season. When the season resumed he showed up in the playoffs scoring 11 points in 22 games.  Since then he has given the Islanders modest production. In each season, he had 28 points in 54 games in 2020-21, 39 points in 77 games in 2021-22, and 40 points in 70 games in 2022-23. Then this past season 33 points in 82 games, his lowest point total since the 2020-21 season where he only played 54 games.  His expected goals were 13.7, also the lowest since the 2020-21 season when it was 10.8. The regular season numbers have been consistent but with a player turning 32 years old and a $5 million cap hit for the next two seasons with the offensive output not trending in the right direction, it might be time to move on.

Does a Buyout Make Sense?

If the Islanders were to buyout Pageau it would create $2.75 million in space. That would be a decent cap return and makes some sense. Moreover, the Islanders would probably like to do a little better than that and a trade might make more sense. They might be able to swing that with the extra second round pick they acquired from the Chicago Blackhawks.  If they package up Pageau along with the extra pick and some others, there might be a team that will take him and his contract getting the full $5 million off the books. Then trying to put that money into their top-six and acquire players who can produce more offensively.

What It Would Mean for the Islanders?

Getting rid of a player like Jean-Gabriel Pageau would definitely leave a void in the Islanders lineup. Case in point, he might not light it up scoring wise, only have scored more than 20 goals twice in his career. He is a great defensive centre who wins a lot of faceoffs, kills penalties and isn’t afraid to throw his body around. He racked up 196 hits and 81 blocked shots this season which both set career highs. Although he has never won the Frank J. Selke Trophy for the NHL’s best defensive forward, he has received votes in seven seasons of a 12 year career. His faceoff percentage with the Islanders is 56%. His average time on ice is 17 minutes. Pageau also set a new career high in shifts taken this season with 1,922. Furthermore, he was leaned on heavily by the Islanders due to the fact that they played in so many close games and needed to have one of their best defensive forwards out there as much as possible.

The Islanders would need veteran Casey Cizikas to move from winger back to centre and fill in on that third line. They would need young centre Kyle Maclean to step up and prove he belongs in the NHL on the fourth line to fill that void down the middle. Pageau brings a lot of value in the defensive and physical side of the game, his style makes him a great playoff player. The Islanders will miss the little things he did but he could be a missing piece for a Stanley Cup contender.

Main photo: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports



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