Soon after the New York Islanders spent their first two picks in this summer’s draft (plus a fancifully conditional third in 2022) to acquire Ottawa Senators center Jean-Gabriel Pageau, they were prepared to spend something much more to make him more of a rental, and add another pricey piece in Minnesota’s Zach Parise.
First, Pageau: According to multiple reporters via Twitter, the Islanders were closing in on a contract extension with their new center.
Pageau reportedly could not reach terms with the Senators on an extension he sought around 5 years and above $5 million per, but it’s possible “also I would be stuck in Ottawa” was a factor in him not accepting terms. We’ll update this post if a deal is reported or announced, but here is where the news is coming from:
Hearing the Islanders & Pageau are finalizing a long-term contract extension.— David Pagnotta (@TheFourthPeriod) February 24, 2020
Islanders' source confirms that Jean Gabriel Pageau will be signing an extension on Long Island.— John Shannon (@JShannonhl) February 24, 2020
Looking to secure Pageau long-term underlines the “all-in” approach the Islanders have taken under Lou Lamoriello since he joined the team as president and quickly hired himself as GM. Though they were not aggressive in last summer’s free agent market, they were internally aggressive at locking up pending free agents Anders Lee, Jordan Eberle and Brock Nelson to long-term contracts.
Now Just Add Parise?
That’s in addition to existing long-term contracts keeping Josh Bailey, Johnny Boychuk and Nick Leddy in the fold through Belmont. And of course, Andrew Ladd’s essentially buyout-proof deal remains as he fights to regain form after multiple leg injuries — although concurrently, there were also multiple reports of the Islanders working on a deal to acquire Zach Parise from the Minnesota Wild while offloading Ladd’s contract the other way.
Hearing #isles are working on a deal that would reunite Zach Parise and GM Lou Lamoriello. Not done yet.— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) February 24, 2020
It sounds like both Parise and Ladd have waived their respected clauses....now it's a matter of putting together the complicated deal #SNTrade— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) February 24, 2020
All of this tells you they believe in this core and in Barry Trotz’s ability to deploy it as a contender. The decision earlier this month to add pending UFA Andy Greene to replace the injured Adam Pelech also reflects their win-now approach.
A key missing ingredient heading into the season, one that has shown itself again and again whenever they’ve struggled, was a proper center to make the third line a threat. Pageau, judging by his career thus far, should do that.
Parise, if acquired, would also add more scoring threat from the wing.
[UPDATE: As you surely know if you’re reading this after the deadline, the Islanders did not end up pulling off a trade for Parise, though reportedly both he and Ladd agreed to waive no-trade clauses.]
But signing Pageau long term and/or acquiring Parise would come at a price. Mathew Barzal, Ryan Pulock and Devon Toews are three key players who will be due handsome raises as restricted free agents this summer. Anthony Beauvillier’s next free agency follows the summer afterward.
Cap space will be tight. Komarovs may be lost. Lamoriello is 77 and didn’t come on board to start a rebuild.