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Islanders Jean-Gabriel Pageau top 10 setup man

MONTREAL, QC - NOVEMBER 04: Jean-Gabriel Pageau #44 of the New York Islanders skates against the Montreal Canadiens during the third period at Centre Bell on November 4, 2021 in Montreal, Canada. The New York Islanders defeated the Montreal Canadiens 6-2. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
MONTREAL, QC - NOVEMBER 04: Jean-Gabriel Pageau #44 of the New York Islanders skates against the Montreal Canadiens during the third period at Centre Bell on November 4, 2021 in Montreal, Canada. The New York Islanders defeated the Montreal Canadiens 6-2. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
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Jean-Gabriel Pageau is constantly receiving praise from his coach. Recently Trotz referred to the center as one of the best two-way players in the league. Ever since the New York Islanders acquired Pageau from the Ottawa Senators, he’s become an invaluable piece for his new team.

Pageau’s contributions on the ice are well known within the team. Like Barry stated, he’s a strong two-way player that plays in all three situations (5on5, PP, PK) and a killer in the faceoff dot.

His offensive skills are respected but never really talked about much. So let’s change that. Because some recent stats work has come out that puts Pageau in the top 10 for an important offensive category.

New York Islanders Jean-Gabriel Pageau top 10 setup man

Outside of goals, shots are the primary currency in the NHL. Just about every metric is based on shots. Corsi (shot share), High Danger Chances (shots from in close), xGF (quality shots), they’re all based on shots.

Who’s getting the puck on net matters quite a bit, but that doesn’t always reveal the full picture. As you know, hockey is a team game, the shooter isn’t lugging the puck up the ice solo to fire his shot on net the entire game. Nine-and-a-half times out of ten that shooter is set up by a teammate. So who are some of the best players in the league at setting up those shots?

As you guessed it, Jean-Gabriel Pageau is top ten in the NHL. On Tuesday, Sportsnet’s Shayna Goldman listed out the league’s top 10 players for primary shot assist (per 60), and Pageau sits eighth with 16.99 primary shot assist per 60. He’s actually better than Barzal who’s at 16.82.

(Briefly; how about the fact that the Isles have two guys in the top ten here. This is a sniper’s paradise.)

That means nearly 17 times a night, Pageau is directly responsible for getting the puck to a shooter’s stick. That doesn’t factor in the ~1.7 shots on goal he gets himself every night. So why does that matter so much?  Because primary shot assists has been shown to be a good predictor for production at the end of the year. As Ryan Stimpson states:

"if you want to know how many points a forward will score over the remainder of the season, you’re much better off using their Primary Shot Contributions than Primary Points. Points can be deceiving."

Pageau’s four points in eight games for the Islanders put him on pace for 36 points over a full year. Which is admittedly not great. But whit these primary shot assists numbers you can rest assured that Pageau’s production will start to pick up at some point. He will be that 40+ point player he was last year.

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