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Islanders trade deadline move for Travis Zajac pays off with injury

UNIONDALE, NEW YORK - APRIL 20: Travis Zajac #14 of the New York Islanders skates in warm-ups prior to the game against the New York Rangers at the Nassau Coliseum on April 20, 2021 in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
UNIONDALE, NEW YORK - APRIL 20: Travis Zajac #14 of the New York Islanders skates in warm-ups prior to the game against the New York Rangers at the Nassau Coliseum on April 20, 2021 in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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With a playoff spot locked up, the New York Islanders have five games remaining to push for home-ice advantage in the postseason. And at least for this first leg of the final stretch, they’ll have to do it without Jean-Gabriel Pageau.

The Isles 2020 trade deadline acquisition has been a big presence for them this season. He’s sixth on the team in scoring and fourth in goals. He’s Barry Trotz’s swiss-army knife out there. He can play in any position and in any situation and excel.

But for now, they’ll go forward without him after picking up an injury against the Rangers. No word yet on how long Pageau will be out.

New York Islanders trade deadline move pays off

Pageau missed some time early in the game on Saturday and eventually returned, but Pageau didn’t finish out the game. His last shift that night was at 43:19. Clearly, he’s still carrying it as the team traveled to Buffalo.

Normally losing a big piece like Pageau would be a huge cause for concern. But the Islanders made a big trade at this trade deadline and acquired Travis Zajac from the New Jersey Devils.

Zajac is a capable centerman and has been for years.

Sure, Zajac is 35, going on 36 in a few days, but the man had 18 points in 33 games with the Devils. That’s a 45 point pace over a full NHL season. That’s essentially what Pageau has over 50 games (28 points in 50 games is a 46 points pace).

Zajac might not be the power play presence that Pageau is but he’s a very capable penalty killer. Again, in case I’m not making myself too clear, he’s the perfect replacement for Pageau.

This is why the Islanders acquired him at the deadline. If someone down the middle went down with an injury at any point through the regular season or through the playoffs Zajac could cover and the Isles strong spine would stay intact.

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