Can JG Pageau rediscover his offensive touch moving forward?

JG Pageau struggled offensively in 2023-24 for the NY Islanders.
JG Pageau struggled offensively in 2023-24 for the NY Islanders. / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

When the NY Islanders acquired JG Pageau from the Ottawa Senators at the 2020 trade deadline, he felt like the missing piece for the forward group. A strong two-way center who killed penalties won faceoffs, and scored big goals, Pageau was exactly what the Islanders needed. As it turned out, Pageau was a key component to the Isles as they enjoyed back-to-back Eastern Conference Finals appearances.

*Read our previously Published player report cards: Sebastian Aho | Mat Barzal | Samuel Bolduc | Casey Cizikas | Cal Clutterbuck | Noah Dobson | Pierre Engvall | Hudson Fasching | Simon Holmstrom | Bo Horvat | Anders Lee | Kyle MacLean | Matt Martin | Scott Mayfield | Brock Nelson

NY Islanders 2023-24 player report card: JG Pageau

But over the last three seasons, Pageau's offense has gone downhill. Without the offensive contributions, Pageau's $5 million salary cap charge is rich for a team with as many pressing issues as the Islanders currently face. This conundrum has led to Pageau being a popular trade candidate as we move into the offseason.

However, even though Pageau struggled offensively, he would be hard to replace for the Isles. Pageau has a career 54% faceoff percentage, and he won 55.4% of his faceoffs this past season. He also was a leading penalty killer and formed a great pair with Simon Holmstrom. However, seeing as Pageau was the leading defensive presence on the worst penalty kill in the NHL in years, it is not exactly a positive to be associated with this year's penalty killing unit.

Pageau also played all 82 games for the first time since 2016-17. As former NFL player Brian Dawkins put it, "the best ability is availability." Pageau's inability to stay healthy has been a bit of an issue in recent seasons, so it's a great sign that he was able to play every game. But while he played in every game, he only put up 33 points, which is one of the lowest points-per-game averages for any season in his career.

This can be largely attributed to a decrease in shot volume. Last season, Pageau scored 13 goals in only 70 games; this year, Pageau had 11 in 82. But last year, Pageau had 123 shots on goal in those 70 games; this year, he had 101 shots on goal in 82. That's 22 fewer shots on goal in 12 more games. Pageau should channel Michael Scott channelling Wayne Gretzky next season and shoot the puck more!

Brendan Gallagher, Jean-Gabriel Pageau
JG Pageau doesn't hesitate to step up and defend his teammates. / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

Pageau gets credit for staying healthy and playing well (for the most part) on the defensive side of the puck this season, but if he returns next season, the Islanders would benefit from a return to normalcy on the offensive side of the equation. The problem is that this has been a three-year decline, and Pageau turns 32 years old in November. Professional athletes do not regularly improve at 32, so perhaps this offensive slide is the beginning of an overall decline for Pageau.

As a third-line center who can be trusted to win any faceoff, Pageau will always provide value- but at a $5 million salary cap hit, that's simply not enough value. If the Islanders can find a taker for Pageau, there is a chance he will be moved out, and that $5M would be reallocated to plug another hole on the roster.

Final Grade: C