3) Jean-Gabriel Pageau (3 years, $5 million AAV)
When the Islanders traded for Jean-Gabriel Pageau at the trade deadline in 2020, he instantly became a fan favorite, as he helped the Islanders reach the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time in 27 years, scoring 8 goals in those playoffs.
After scoring 50 combined goals in his last two seasons with Ottawa, Pageau has struggled to find those same production levels on Long Island. While acknowledging the small, sometimes unnoticed things he does to help a team win games, just 45 goals in three full seasons with the Islanders have many wondering if Lamoriello overpaid to keep Pageau long-term.
The 30-year-old is set to make $12 million in base salary with a $5M AAV cap hit over the next three seasons, and while his penalty-killing and face-off skills have value, the Isles have four other natural centers on their team or could find a third-line penalty-killer for a much lower price elsewhere on the market.
Pageau was rumored to be involved in the DeBrincat trade talks with Ottawa, so it will be interesting to see if Pageau finishes out this contract with the Islanders as they try to free up some more cap space. We've already seen General Manager Lou Lamoriello move Josh Bailey this summer for salary cap flexibility.
Is Pageau next?