It’s been a full year since the New York Islanders traded three picks to the Ottawa Senators for center Jean-Gabriel Pageau. It was the blockbuster of the 2020 trade deadline, but it got a ton of poor reviews.
Pageau, who was having a career year as the top-line center for the struggling Senators when the Islanders acquired him. And thanks to that the price was high to acquire him. The Isles game Ottawa a top-three-protected first in 2020, a second in 2020, and a conditional third in 2022 (the condition for getting the pick was the isles win the cup in 2020).
Immediately after the trade, Pageau signed a six-year $30 million contract ($6 million AAV) with the Isles. Now that we have a full year since the trade to look back on, it’s clear the notion that Pageau wouldn’t be worth it did not come true.
One year after Jean-Gabriel Pageau trade to New York Islanders
There were a lot of takes after the Isles sent that cache of draft capital to the Senators for Pageau and his subsequent long-term contract. Most of it centered around Pageau having a career year with the Senators at the time of the trade (24 goals and 40 points in 60 games), and how that was unlikely to continue with the Islanders.
Before the 2020 trade deadline, the Athletic ran a piece describing what could happen at the deadline. Pageau was listed under the “buyer beware section” and had this particular passage:
"The acquisition cost based on market supply and demand looks very likely to surpass the value he’ll actually provide. Pageau is a good player, but not this good, and not worth his likely price tag."
There was some merit to that argument of course, Pageau was shooting at a career-high 17.8% that season. It was also the first time he hit 20 goals in a season. And he was also getting a career-high 19:18 of average ice-time a night.
It was quite possible there would be some regression in his game as he settled into a third-line center role behind Mathew Barzal and Brock Nelson. And that certainly looked true in his first seven games after the trade. He had two goals on 16 shots, giving him a 12.5% shooting percentage.
But by the time the playoffs happened that changed. Pageau put up eight goals on 44 shots for an 18.2% shooting percentage. Only Brock Nelson and Anthony Beauvillier had more goals than Pageau for the Islanders.
Now in the 20-21 season, Pageau continues to prove his worth on the scoresheet with seven goals and eleven points in 18 games. Pace that out over a full 82 game season and Pageau is set for a career year in terms of goal scoring (31 goals) and total production (50 points).
And he’s doing that as a third-line center. His average ice time is way down from that “career-year” with Ottawa. Pageau is averaging 16:44 of ice-time this season. He’s also shooting at an incredible 21.9% efficiency.
Things are going very well for him. Lou paid a big price but it wasn’t for nothing. Pageau is showing that what he did with Ottawa was no fluke. A year out since the trade, there should be no complaints about the price Lamoriello paid.